The former Sandinista guerrilla Dora María Téllez, one of the key figures in the liberation of Nicaragua from the Somocista dictatorship, has been sentenced this Thursday afternoon by the justice of Daniel Ortega under for the alleged crimes of “undermining national integrity” and “conspiracy”. Judge Ángel Jancarlos Fernández held an express hearing, lasting less than seven hours, and immediately, the Prosecutor’s Office requested 15 years in prison for the historian and critic of the current administration, plus disqualification from holding public office.
Téllez’s conviction, immortalized by Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez in the chronicle Asalto al Palacio, occurs in a cycle of political trials scheduled against the 47 opponents that Ortega imprisoned as of June 2021 to eliminate all competition from the November general elections. past, in which he declared himself the winner without competition, perpetuating himself in power with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
The historic and emblematic 66-year-old ex-guerrilla was subjected to a trial without procedural guarantees, according to human rights defenders. But also aggravated by several factors: the hearing was held behind closed doors in El Chipote, the same prison where she is locked up and suffering torture, according to her relatives, who were prevented from entering the trial.
The only ones who had access were Téllez’s lawyers, but they were held incommunicado. According to article 121 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, trials must be held at the courthouse and not in prison. However, relatives of prisoners of conscience believe that this secrecy is so that images of the physical and emotional deterioration of the defendants as a result of the mistreatment they have received during confinement are not leaked.
Téllez’s trial has followed the same pattern as the first four opponents prosecuted this week: Yader Parajón, Yaser Vado González, Alexis Peralta and the activist Ana Margarita Vijil who, after being found guilty of “conspiracy”, wrote in the guilt report “I am a political prisoner” under her name.
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Parallel to Téllez, the student leader Lesther Alemán, recognized for having confronted Daniel Ortega face to face in 2018 at a dialogue table, was also tried. On that occasion, the student summoned the president, ordered him to cease the repression of social protests and get out of power. The university student was also convicted of committing “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and the Prosecutor’s Office has also requested the maximum sentence of 15 years.
“Today that Lesther is convicted, he is arbitrarily imprisoned for 213 days. Due process is non-existent and all of his human rights have been violated. Lesther has not been able to speak with his lawyer or receive visits from his relatives. He has been subjected to exhausting interrogations as a mechanism of torture, to poor nutrition and sanitary conditions that have affected his health, ”said the student group of which Alemán is a member. “The trial against Lesther has been illegal and illegitimate; a judicial farce typical of a dictatorship whose power emanates from the electoral farce and systematic violation of the human rights of Nicaraguans,” they added in a statement.
Judge without competition
The veteran human rights defender, Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, not only classifies these trials as political, but also assures that they are “farces and montages.” First, because when the Prosecutor’s Office announced the reactivation of the processes in a statement, the tone was condemnatory beforehand by classifying political prisoners as “criminals and delinquents.” The Public Ministry overrode the presumption of innocence before the defendants could face a judge.
For human rights defenders and relatives, the accused have to face blind defense. Among the judicial anomalies that have been detected is that the only witnesses provided by the Prosecutor’s Office are policemen and Sandinista sympathizers. In addition, the evidence presented is screenshots of social networks, some faked, while the defense attorneys have not been able to visit the defendants beforehand and the complaints have not been uploaded to the judiciary system either.
“The trials of Dora María and Lesther, apart from all the annulments that have been committed in the processing, and repeated today in this express hearing, have a serious contradiction with the Penal Code: the crime of ‘Undermining national integrity’ must be heard by a jury court and not by a technical judge. That is, these judges have no jurisdiction. So there is nullity… but we already know that in Nicaragua the legal arguments are useless, “explained Dr. Núñez to EL PAÍS.
The Ortega-Murillo regime resumed political trials on February 1, while relatives of detainees and the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) called for a dialogue in order to free those imprisoned. The regime ignored this provision and hastened the processes against the opponents, which – for the moment – are scheduled until February 24. Far from being willing to soften, Ortega has radicalized his repression and prosecute critical voices with some of the laws created to hunt down dissidents, such as the Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People or the Cybercrime Law, both approved by the Assembly controlled by Sandinism.
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