Nicaragua condemns 7 other opposition leaders for “conspiracy”

Nicaraguan judges on Wednesday convicted seven opposition leaders, including former high-profile Sandinistas and three former presidential candidates, of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity”.

A spokesman for the opposition coalition Civic Alliance said the seven included Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and the Central American country’s former ambassador to the United States, Arturo Cruz Sequeira.

All three had planned to run in the November 7 presidential elections before President Daniel Ortega’s government shut them down, along with some 40 other opponents.

With all in custody, Ortega won a fourth consecutive presidential term in November elections widely criticized by the international community.

The series of recent trials of opposition figures took place in the notorious Chipote prison. Only their lawyers were allowed to assist the defendants.

The trials “were full of violations of law and violations of rights and due process, and therefore they are null and void trials, which delivered void sentences,” the Civic Alliance said in a statement. a statement.

Cruz Sequeira, 68, was one of three opposition figures with health issues who were sentenced to house arrest last week, following the death of another jailed opponent after months incarceration .

Former Deputy Foreign Minister José Pallais, 68, was sentenced on Wednesday. He was also placed under house arrest. Business leader José Adán Aguerri, Violeta Granera and opposition leader Tamara Dávila were also sentenced.

Prosecutors claimed the seven attempted to “conspire” against Ortega’s government by participating in a WhatsApp conversation with US-based political analyst Manuel Orozco.

Most of those convicted so far by Nicaraguan judges have subsequently been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Among those already sentenced are Victor Hugo Tinoco, who was deputy foreign minister under the first Sandinista government in 1979 but later split from Ortega. Tinoco also served as Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Nations and chief negotiator for peace talks with the US-backed Contras.

Hugo Torres, a former Sandinista guerrilla leader who once led a raid that helped free rebel Ortega from prison, has died awaiting trial. He was 73 years old.

Thousands of people have fled into exile since Nicaraguan security forces violently suppressed anti-government protests in 2018. Ortega says the protests were in fact a coup attempt with foreign backing, and many of those who are on trial were accused of working with foreign powers for his overthrow or encouraging the foreigner. nations to impose sanctions on his family members and his government.