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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ex-Guerrilla and Student Leader Critical of Ortega Sentenced to Prison in Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s former vice-chancellor Víctor Tinoco and student leader Max Jerez were sentenced on Monday to 13 years in prison for threatening the integrity of the country, in a series of trials against opponents of Daniel Ortega’s government, informed a humanitarian source.

Both were also disqualified from holding public office for the same period, the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), which is following the trials, indicated on its Twitter account. 

Tinoco, 69, was Ortega’s comrade in the ex-guerrilla Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN, left) that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. He also served as vice-chancellor of the government after the triumph of the revolution in the 1980s.

He later became a strong critic of Ortega, due to discrepancies in his way of leading the party.

Jeréz, meanwhile, is one of the student leaders of the Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN), which supported the 2018 protests calling for the resignation of Ortega, in power since 2007.

The repression of those protests, which the government attributed to a failed coup d’état promoted by Washington, left at least 355 dead, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

On February 1, trials began against 46 opponents, among them seven presidential hopefuls, who were arrested last year on charges of promoting foreign interference and international sanctions.

All of them are being prosecuted under a 2020 law that considers these acts as “treason”.

Most of the arrests occurred before the November elections, in which Ortega won a fourth consecutive term, amid international criticism for the imprisonment of opponents.

To date, at least 21 opponents have been convicted, of which 15 have already been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 8 to 13 years.

The hearings are being held behind closed doors, in the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ) of the Managua police, where most of them are being held.

One of them, the ex-guerrilla and former comrade-in-arms of the president, Hugo Torres, died on February 12 in a hospital, where he was transferred from prison due to an illness which was not specified by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Three other opponents, among them presidential hopeful Arturo Cruz, were transferred last Saturday to house arrest due to health problems.

The three releases came a day after 27 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) demanded that Nicaragua release the “political prisoners” after condemning Torres’ death.

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