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Inter-American Court Demands Freedom for Nicaraguan Bishop

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanded Wednesday that Nicaragua “immediately” release Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, imprisoned and sentenced to 26 years in prison for “undermining national integrity”.

The IACHR Court, based in San José, ordered “to request the State of Nicaragua to immediately proceed to the release of Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of Matagalpa, and to adopt the necessary measures to effectively protect his life, health and personal integrity”, informed the continental court through a resolution.

Alvarez was sentenced on February 10 after refusing, one day before his sentence, to leave for the United States together with 222 political prisoners released and expelled from the country.

The Court established a deadline of July 7 for Nicaragua to process the release of the prelate and duly inform the court of the release process.

While his release is being negotiated, the Inter-American Court ordered that he be guaranteed “dignified treatment through immediate access to health services, medicines and adequate food, as well as facilitating his contact with family members and lawyers”.

The Alvarez case is one of the issues of tension between the government of Daniel Ortega and the Catholic Church, while Managua’s diplomatic relations with the Vatican are on the verge of rupture. At the beginning of last March, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a communiqué that “a suspension of diplomatic relations” with the Holy See has been proposed.

The Vatican chargé d’affaires in Nicaragua, Marcel Diouf, left the country on March 17. A year ago Ortega expelled the nuncio, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.On February 10, one day after the release and expulsion of the 222 prisoners, a court sentenced Bishop Alvarez to 26 years and four months in prison and a fine of 1,600 dollars.

In addition, he was deprived of his Nicaraguan nationality and his citizenship rights in perpetuity.

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