The United States on Saturday described as a “terrible injustice” the sentence handed down against Nicaraguan opposition and former presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro and other opponents for “unfounded” crimes attributed by the government of Daniel Ortega.
“Cristiana and Pedro Chamorro and their colleagues were convicted on baseless charges, suffered a terrible injustice at the hands of Ortega-Murillo,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols on Twitter.
Nichols alluded to the influence of the Ortega government and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, over the state apparatus, including the Nicaraguan justice system.
Cristiana, 68 years old and daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), was the favorite to run against Ortega’s reelection in last November’s elections.
On Friday, the opposition leader was found guilty of money laundering and three other crimes attributed to her time as head of the now defunct Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), which promoted freedom of the press.
“The real objective of (Ortega’s) regime is the freedoms of Nicaraguans, which is why he has attacked those who have always defended them,” said Nichols.
According to the prosecution, Chamorro’s foundation financed media and journalists to destabilize the country.
The trial against Cristiana lasted seven days and was held in a prison of the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ) of the Managua police.
The judge announced that the sentence against Chamorro, which could range from eight to 13 years in prison, will be handed down on March 21.
The opposition leader has been under house arrest since June 2. The judge will decide whether she will serve her sentence under house arrest or will be transferred to prison.
Ortega won last November a fourth consecutive term in office since 2007.
Her reelection was questioned by the United States and other countries of the international community as undemocratic.
Along with Cristiana, her brother Pedro Joaquín was also sentenced for the crimes of abusive management and misappropriation, as well as three other opponents.
This Saturday, the opposition group Citizens for Liberty, which was outlawed prior to last year’s elections, expressed its “firmest rejection of the unjust judicial declaration of guilt issued against Pedro Joaquín Chamorro”, who it said was a founding member of that organization.
Cristiana is one of the 46 opponents who were arrested last year in the run-up to the elections. The trials began on February 1, and to date at least 31 of them have been convicted, mostly for attacks against national integrity