A Nicaraguan court Thursday found two prominent opposition figures guilty of “conspiracy,” according to a human rights organization which condemned the trial as “null and void” for taking place behind closed doors.
Former guerrilla Dora Maria Tellez and student leader Lesther Aleman were tried at El Chipote — one of the country’s most notorious prisons where dozens of activists detained in the run-up to last year’s election are being held.
The trial of the Tellez — a former leftist guerrilla who fought alongside President Daniel Ortega during Nicaragua’s civil war — and Aleman took place behind closed doors, with only a sole family member of each in attendance.
“They were found guilty of forming an association of wrongdoers undermining national integrity,” the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said.
“The process was null and void because it violated the constitutional guarantees that stipulate that trials must be public and that the press must be able to attend,” it added.
It was not clear what the sentence was, but a member of the opposition Blue and White National Unity party told AFP that magistrates had asked for a 15-year jail term for the 66-year-old Tellez, a historian and one of the founders of the dissident Sandinista Renovation Movement.
Student leader Aleman, 24, rose to fame after publicly calling for Ortega’s resignation during a dialogue between the government and activists involved in 2018 protests.
“His only crime is to have spoken in the name of everyone in 2018, confronting Mr. Ortega with his crimes and demanding he leave office,” journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, speaking from exile in Costa Rica, said on Twitter.
Family of the dozens of activists held since last year have said the opposition figures are suffering from serious health issues, experiencing blackouts and loss of teeth.
Last month the United Nations human rights body urged Nicaragua — Central America’s poorest country — to free people who had been arbitrarily detained and to stop prosecutions and harassment of political opponents, journalists and human rights defenders.