Nicaragua: power offensive against the opposition before the presidential election

Two months before the presidential election in Nicaragua, justice continues its offensive against the opposition. Three potential presidential candidates were held in custody on Friday and will be on trial. Since the beginning of June, 34 opponents have been arrested.

In Nicaragua , the justice decided, Friday, September 3, to initiate a lawsuit and to keep in preventive detention three potential presidential candidates, the day after a similar decision against Cristiana Chamorro, considered as the most threatening adversary for President Daniel Ortega , who is running for a fourth consecutive term. In all, 34 opponents, including presidential candidates, were arrested. Some are subjected to “psychological torture”, denounced their relatives and one of their lawyers.

Two months before the presidential election of November 7, the three opponents Félix Maradiaga, Arturo Cruz and Juan Sebastian Chamorro, imprisoned in El Chipote prison since last June , were sent back to court on Friday for breach of the law. national sovereignty and “betrayal to the fatherland”, during a preliminary hearing held behind closed doors in the El Chipote penitentiary center in Managua.

Nicaraguan justice did the same for seven other arrested opponents, including businessman José Aguerri, and three former comrades in arms of Daniel Ortega in the Sandinista guerrilla. The prosecution has not announced any date for the trials of the opponents.

The 34 opponents arrested since the beginning of June are accused of money laundering, or “treason to the motherland” under a law adopted last year which provides for heavy prison sentences against those who would incite interference foreigners or who approve of the international sanctions imposed on the country or on members of the regime.

Ortega’s main opponent still under house arrest

The day before, the Nicaraguan justice had decided to initiate a lawsuit and to keep the presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro under house arrest. Without specifying date or court.

Cristiana Chamorro, 67, has been under house arrest since June 2 , after the prosecution opened an investigation for money laundering through the foundation named after her mother, former president Violeta Chamorro. The NGO, which closed in February, was a center for training journalists and defending press freedom, run for 20 years by Cristiana Chamorro.

Ortega’s main opponent denied the accusations, saying it was a way to prevent her from participating in the November 7 election. Polls credit her with the most electoral support after President Daniel Ortega.

“Psychological torture” in prison

Opponents of the imprisoned Nicaraguan president, including seven former presidential pre-candidates, are subjected to “psychological torture”, denounced relatives of detainees and one of their lawyers.

Relatives of former presidential pre-candidates Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Arturo Cruz, as well as former Sandinista historic guerrilla Dora Maria Tellez and trade unionist Violeta Granera were allowed to visit them for the first time on Tuesday. , according to a statement from the Nicaraguan prosecutor’s office. 

Prisoners are held in solitary confinement, cannot communicate with each other, only go out into the open once a week while the lights are always on in their cells and they cannot read or watch television, their relatives said.

From Washington, international lawyer Jared Genser, who defends Maradiaga and Chamorro, has denounced the “psychological torture” inflicted on his clients since they have been in prison, even though they “have not been physically beaten”, he said. said the lawyer in a press release. “The two politicians, held in solitary confinement and” subjected to frequent and harsh interrogations “have each lost more than ten kilograms since their arrest.

Daniel Ortega, a 75-year-old former guerrilla, in power since 2007, is seeking a fourth consecutive term as head of state in the November 7 elections in which opponents were ousted or jailed because the president believes they are conspirators who want to overthrow him  with the help of the United States .

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