MANAGUA Former President and convict Arnoldo Alemán had the conditions of his arrest tightened last week following a ruling Dec. 13 by the First Circuit Appeals Court to uphold his 20-year jail sentence for corruption.
Alemán, who since earlier this year enjoyed a unique form of house arrest that allowed him to move about the country, is now back under a more traditional house arrest, the terms of which will be determined by the National Penitentiary System.
Alemán, president from 1996-2001, was sentenced to a 20-year term in 2003 for money laundering and embezzlement. He has been allowed to serve most of his sentence under house arrest due to chronic health problems related to his heart and obesity.
Alemán, who signed a power-sharing pact or pacto with Daniel Ortega in 1998, claims he is a political prisoner of a judicial system controlled by the president and his Sandinista Front. Analysts claim Alemán s ultimate freedom depends on his ability to negotiate new terms of the pacto with Ortega.
Earlier this year, the terms of Alemán s arrest were loosened to allow his free mobility around the country, which the politician took advantage of by embarking on a national campaign to unite his Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) and potentially position himself for another run at the presidency in 2011 (NT, May 4).
The former president s national tour also served Ortega s interests by helping to keep the Liberals divided between Alemán and rival party boss Eduardo Montealegre, of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance.
But when Alemán s PLC lawmakers sided with the ALN and voted against Ortega s controversial Councils of Citizen Power (CPCs) last month, many political pundits warned that Alemán was violating the terms of the pacto and would soon pay the price. Two weeks later, the appeals court rejected Alemán s longstanding appeal and ordered him back under house arrest and out of the public light.