Nicaraguan judge convicts ex-presidential hopeful Mora
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — A judge in Nicaragua has convicted former presidential hopeful Miguel Mora of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” after a trial lasting a few hours.
Lucía Pineda Ubau, who is currently running Mora’s 100% Noticias television station, said the judge recommended a 15-year prison sentence for Mora when he is sentenced.
Mora’s hopes to run in the Nov. 7 elections were truncated after President Daniel Ortega ordered him and six other contenders arrested in May and June.
Mora is one of about 46 political detainees rounded up last year by Nicaragua’s government, allowing Ortega to run almost unopposed.
On Thursday, a judge convicted former Sandinista rebel commander Dora María Téllez of the same charges after a trial lasting only a few hours. Critics call the hearings sham trials and say the verdicts are pre-ordained.
Téllez, 65, led an assault on the National Palace in 1978 during the Somoza family dictatorship, holding congress members hostage in exchange for the release of rebel prisoners. Following Anastasio Somoza’s overthrow the next year, Téllez served as health minister in the first Sandinista government, which was led by Ortega from 1979 to 1990.
She later split with Ortega and became a leader of the opposition Sandinista Renovation Movement. The former leader of that movement, Ana Margarita Vijil, was found guilty of the same charge in a similar trial Wednesday.
Also convicted Thursday was former student protest leader Lesther Alemán. The Nicaraguan University Alliance, Alemán’s group, said his trial lasted a total of six hours.
Lawyer Vilma Núñez, who leads the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, had predicted the hearings would be only for show, with the outcomes already concluded.
“This looks like it will be pre-ordained convictions of innocent people,” Núñez said.
“Nobody should be confused. These are not trials,” Núñez said. “These are repressive farces that the regime uses to issue convictions and continue to intimidate the people.”
Núñez spoke Monday, after prosecutors announced they were starting trials for 46 political figures arrested between May and June.
They include seven people who had been considered potential candidates to challenge Ortega, who won a fourth term in the November election which was widely criticized as a farce. It was called illegitimate by the United States, European Union and the Organization of American States General Assembly.
Relatives have said 39 prisoners kept in prison since being arrested have been subjected to isolation, constant interrogations and insufficient food. The seven others are under a form of house arrest.
The ruling Sandinista Front and its allies control Nicaragua’s congress and all government institutions. After leading the revolutionary government, Ortega served as president from 1985 to 1990, before being re-elected to power in 2007.