Nicaragua sentences journalist, ex-minister for “conspiracy”
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A judge in Nicaragua sentenced former presidential hopeful and journalist Miguel Mora to 13 years in prison Wednesday for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”
Mora was the latest in a series of opposition political figures to be convicted and sentenced after trials lasting a few hours. The trials of the 46 opposition figures, including seven presidential hopefuls like Mora, started Feb. 1.
The government of President Daniel Ortega had accused Mota of having “promoted economic sanctions” and “having incited foreign interference in internal affairs” of Nicaragua.
The U.S. and European Union have slapped sanctions on members of Ortega’s government for crushing internal dissent and for undemocratic practices.
Mora’s lawyer, Gerardo González, told the 100% Noticias television station — where Mora served as director until he was imprisoned — that the sentence was handed down Wednesday.
Mora’s hopes to run in the Nov. 7 elections were truncated when President Daniel Ortega ordered him and six other contenders arrested in May and June, allowing Ortega to run almost unopposed.
On Tuesday, sports writer and government critic Miguel Mendoza was convicted on similar charges, as was former Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, 76.
Both are expected to be sentenced soon.
Among those already convicted are former Sandinista rebel commander Dora María Téllez, 65, who 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 charges.
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 preordained 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.”
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.