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Nicaragua convicts seven more opposition leaders of ‘conspiracy’

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Nicaraguan judges on Wednesday convicted seven opposition leaders, including former high-level Sandinistas and three former presidential contenders, of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity”.

A spokesperson for the Civic Alliance opposition coalition said the seven included Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and the Central American country’s former ambassador to the United States (US), Arturo Cruz Sequeira.

All three had been planning to run in the November 7 presidential elections before the government of President Daniel Ortega arrested them and around 40 other opponents.
With all of them in custody, Ortega cruised to winning a fourth consecutive presidential term in November elections widely criticised by the international community.

The string of recent trials of opposition figures has been carried out in the infamous Chipote prison. The defendants have only been permitted to have their lawyers present.
The trials “have been full of violations of the law and violations of rights and due process, and therefore they are null and void trials, that have issued null sentences”, the Civic Alliance said in a statement.

Cruz Sequeira, 68, was one of three opposition figures suffering from health problems who were ordered to home confinement last week, after another imprisoned opponent died following months of incarceration.

Former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister José Pallais, 68, was convicted on Wednesday. He has also been granted house arrest. Also convicted were business leader José Adán Aguerri, Violeta Granera and opposition leader Tamara Dávila.

Prosecutors claimed the seven had attempted to “conspire” against Ortega’s government by participating in a WhatsApp chat with a US-based political analyst, Manuel Orozco.

Protesters yell from behind the road block they erected as they face off with security forces in Managua, Nicaragua. PHOTO: AP

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