NEWS: Nicaragua
Journalist sentenced to 13 years in prison for “conspiracy”

A Nicaraguan judge has sen­tenced for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and jour­nal­ist Miguel Mora to 13 years in prison for “con­spir­a­cy to under­mine nation­al integrity”.

Mora is the lat­est in a string of oppo­si­tion politi­cians to be found guilty and sen­tenced after tri­als last­ing hours. The tri­als of 46 oppo­si­tion fig­ures, includ­ing sev­en pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates like Mora, began on Feb­ru­ary 1.

The Unit­ed States and the Euro­pean Union have imposed sanc­tions on mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Daniel Orte­ga’s gov­ern­ment for crush­ing inter­nal dis­sent and for unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic practices.

Mora’s lawyer, Ger­ar­do Gon­za­lez, told the 100% Noti­cias tele­vi­sion chan­nel — where Mora served as man­ag­er until his incar­cer­a­tion — that the sen­tence was hand­ed down on Wednesday.

Mora’s hopes of run­ning in the Novem­ber 7 elec­tion were trun­cat­ed when Orte­ga ordered his arrest, along with that of six oth­er can­di­dates, in May and June, allow­ing Orte­ga to run almost unopposed.

On Tues­day, sports writer and gov­ern­ment crit­ic Miguel Men­doza was sen­tenced on sim­i­lar charges, as was for­mer for­eign min­is­ter Fran­cis­co Aguirre Sacasa, 76.

Among those already sen­tenced are for­mer San­din­ista rebel com­man­der Dora María Tellez, 65, who led an assault on the Nation­al Palace in 1978 dur­ing the Somoza fam­i­ly dic­ta­tor­ship, hold­ing mem­bers of Con­gress hostage in exchange for release rebel prisoners.

After Anas­ta­sio Somoza was over­thrown the fol­low­ing year, Tellez served as health min­is­ter in the first San­din­ista gov­ern­ment, led by Orte­ga from 1979 to 1990.

She then sep­a­rat­ed from Orte­ga and became the leader of the oppo­si­tion move­ment San­din­ista Ren­o­va­tion. The move­men­t’s for­mer leader, Ana Mar­gari­ta Vijil, was con­vict­ed on the same charges.

Lawyer Vil­ma Nunez, who heads the Nicaraguan Cen­ter for Human Rights, had pre­dict­ed that the hear­ings would be for show only, with the results already concluded.

“It looks like these will be script­ed con­vic­tions of inno­cent peo­ple,” Nunez said.

“Nobody should be con­fused. These are not tri­als,” Nunez said.

The rul­ing San­din­ista Front and its allies con­trol the Nicaraguan Con­gress and all gov­ern­ment institutions.

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