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.