Edgar Parrales, a 79-year-old former priest and former Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS, was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison, in one of the trials against opponents of Daniel Ortega’s government, a humanitarian organization reported.
“Judge Nadia Tardencilla sentenced Edgar Parrales to eight years in prison for the crimes of undermining national integrity and cybercrime,” the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), which accompanies the judicial processes against opponents, indicated on Twitter. The authorities do not usually report such cases.
In her sentence, the judge decided to keep Parrales under house arrest, which was established in his favor last February due to the deterioration of his health in prison, where he spent three months. “His health condition is worrisome,” warned Cenidh.
Parrales, once an ally of Ortega in the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), was one of six priests, along with fellow writer Ernesto Cardenal (who died in 2020), sanctioned by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s for holding public office, which was considered incompatible.
Parrales distanced himself from Sandinismo in the 1990s and became a critic of Ortega’s administration after protests erupted against the 2018 government, whose repression left 355 dead, according to humanitarian groups.
The trial against Parrales was held behind closed doors at the Managua police’s Dirección de Auxilio Judicial (DAJ) prison, known as El Chipote, where on April 26 he was found guilty of the crimes charged.
“I am innocent,” declared Parrales, who accused Ortega of being “responsible” for the “tragedy” that Nicaragua is experiencing, according to Cenidh.
The former diplomat is one of 46 opponents, including seven former presidential hopefuls, who were arrested last year in the run-up to the November elections, in which Ortega won a fourth consecutive term in office since 2007.
Most of the opponents are being held in the DAJ, where they suffer mistreatment and terrible prison conditions, according to their relatives.
On February 1, the trials against the opponents began. Most of them have already received sentences ranging from eight to 13 years in prison for undermining national integrity, among other offenses.
Ortega accuses the imprisoned opponents of plotting an alleged coup d’état, with support from Washington. The United States does not recognize the Ortega government, considering that it was reelected under fraudulent conditions.