Nicaraguan rights leader says he’s being targeted for political revenge

July 4, 2008

One of Nicaragua´s top human-rights leaders claims he is the latest victim of the Sandinista government´s political witch-hunt to eliminate the opposition.

Marcos Carmona, director of Nicaragua´s Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), told The Nica Times yesterday that an attempt to arrest him on “invented” charges Tuesday morning is “very suspicious” and smells of political revenge.

Carmona said police officers showed up at his house at 5:40 a.m. with an arrest warrant. They reportedly told him that he was wanted for assaulting two police officers. However, the police refused to show Carmona the warrant or search order, so the human-rights lawyer refused to cooperate with the arrest.

“This situation is political, not legal,” Carmona said, stressing he´s never physically or verbally assaulted any police officers.

Instead, Carmona went on his own to the police station and to the courthouse to find out what was going on. But in both cases the authorities refused to meet with him or show him the file against him.

“I still haven´t had access to the file and don´t know what it says,” Carmona said, adding that today he will file a motion demanding to see his file and the accusation against him. He will also file a motion to revoke the arrest warrant against him, which he claims is illegal since he´s never been accused of anything.

Carmona did, however, find out that his accusation was allegedly processed Monday at midnight – an hour, he says, when no one in the court is supposed to be working.

Carmona, who was instrumental in presenting the 2006 indigenous case accusing President Daniel Ortega of crimes against humanity, has maintained a very critical stance against Ortega´s Sandinista government and acknowledges that he has a lot of political enemies. Most recently, Carmona has called the newly elected Supreme Court magistrates incompetent political cronies, and has criticized the Supreme Electoral Council´s decision to eliminate minority parties from the upcoming municipal elections.

Carmona is not the only opposition voice suddenly facing possible arrest orders. The state prosecutor´s office on Monday filed a criminal accusation against 39 former government officials and bankers – including opposition leader Eduardo Montealgre and newspaper publisher Jaime Chamorro, of the leading opposition daily La Prensa – for their alleged role in a banking scandal known as the “Cenis” case. The state prosecutor is requesting the judge put the 39 accused under a preventive house arrest.

Carmona, meanwhile, says the recent attempts to jail opposition leaders are akin to the Sandinista tactics in the 1980s.

“Unfortunately, the (institutional integrity) of the country is lost,” Carmona said. “Now they don´t have to make people disappear. Now they can do it ‘legally´ by inventing anything they want.”

See this Friday´s Nica Times print edition for more on the Cenis case and problems with Nicaragua´s institutional democracy.

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