Nicaragua sentences ex-presidential candidate to 8 years in prison amid wider crackdown on opposition

This is the latest offensive by the government of President Daniel Ortega against members of the opposition.

Ortega ran for a fifth presidential term last November. In June 2021, his government began using a vague national security law as an excuse to detain opposition presidential candidates, opposition leaders, journalists, human rights activists and others ahead of the November elections.

According to CNN Español, at least 40 opposition figures have been found guilty of conspiring to undermine national integrity and financial crimes.

Chamorro, a journalist and former director of the Violetta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for money laundering and improper retention offenses and will remain under house arrest, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights. (SENID). According to CENIDH, Pedro Vasquez, the journalist’s driver, was sentenced to seven years in prison for money laundering.

According to CENIDH, Violetta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation administrator Walter Gomez and accountant Marcos Fletes were both sentenced to 13 years in prison for the same crimes, in addition to management abuse and ideological lying.

The government also sentenced Chamorro’s brother and former Liberal MP Pedro Joaquín Chamorro to nine years in prison for mismanagement and misappropriation offenses, according to CENIDH.

The former presidential candidate, her driver Vazquez, Gomez and Fletes were also fined two fines, one for $1.6 million and the other for 56 million cords ($1.56 million), according to CNN Español, according to CENIDH.

All five were found guilty on March 12, 2022 in a closed trial, according to CNN Español. They pleaded not guilty and said they would appeal to the judiciary, according to CNN Español.

Roberto Lario, a spokesman for the Nicaraguan judiciary, told CNN he has no comment on the lawsuits and the Ministry of Public Administration does not release any updates on the lawsuits.

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