Cristiana Chamorro under House Arrest after 5-Hour Raid

Police officers prevent access to the home of Cristiana Chamorro Barrios. Photo: Nayira Valenzuela.

The perimeter of the house of the presidential candidate remains surrounded by Daniel Ortega’s Special Operations officers.

By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – After a raid of her home that lasted more than five hours, presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro Barrios was notified at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday that she was under house arrest. She remains incommunicado in her home as the Police occupation continues. The officers do not allow anyone to enter the property, according to information provided by her brother Carlos F. Chamorro, director of Confidencial.

It all began at noon on Wednesday when a group of Police officers broke into the house of Chamorro Barrios, minutes after Managua Criminal Court judge, Karen Chavarria Morales, issued an arrest warrant against her and the forced entry of her home.

The Prosecutor’s Office accused Chamorro “for the crimes of abusive administration and misrepresentation both concurrently with money, assets and capital goods” through the now closed Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation. The sudden charges were used to disqualify her from the electoral contest in which Daniel Ortega will seek his fourth consecutive presidential term.

According to a press release from the Judicial Branch, the arrest warrant was requested by the Prosecutor’s Office in the accusation filed on Monday night, where the institution requested “the complex processing of the case and the precautionary measure of pre-trial detention of the accused.”

Screenshot showing armed policemen blocking access to Cristiana Chamorro’s house, after the forceful entrance of the riot police force.  Photo: Courtesy / Confidencial

The request of the Public Ministry is part of “a chain of illegalities and arbitrariness” in the accusation filed this Monday by the Prosecutor’s Office that, according to legal experts consulted, make it clear that it is “a case of political persecution.”

At noon, Cristiana Chamorro had scheduled an online press conference to respond to the accusation against her, but minutes before it began the officers entered her home and began the raid.

Another shot of the riot police at Cristiana Chamorros’ house.  Photo: Courtesy / Confidencial.

In this same case, Daniel Ortega’s Police kidnapped former Foundation financier Walter Gomez and former accountant Marcos Fletes. They were abducted on May 28, and since then, their relatives and lawyers have not been able to communicate with them. Under a new law “suspects” under investigation can be held for 90 days instead of 48 hours without charges.

In the accusation, the Prosecutor’s Office also request immigration restrictions for veteran journalist Maria Lilly Delgado and former employees of the Foundation, Lourdes Arroliga and Guillermo Medrano. In addition, it prohibits them from attending “certain meetings and places,” and even to communicate with people linked to the facts under investigation, “to prevent them from evading the investigative process carried out against them.”

More than thirty journalists, media directors and representatives, non-profit organizations, and former employees of the Foundation have been summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office, which assures that it will continue to summon other “witnesses” in the case.

Riot police attack journalists

The perimeter of Cristiana Chamorro’s house remains surrounded by Special Operations officers, who pushed back journalists covering the raid and relatives of the candidate, who came to the gate of the house to find out about the situation.

Riot police officers hit journalists Walkiria Chavarria, from Channel 14 and Michelle Polanco, from Channel 10. They even took and smashed Polanco’s cell phone.

Armed civilians who collaborate with the police also appeared at the scene. They were in charge of photographing, beating and threatening those present to make them leave the area.

Hours later, a group of people who came to show solidarity with Cristiana Chamorro were also attacked by the officers. The Police then took over the adjacent street to prevent further filming of the raid/occupation of the presidential candidate’s house.

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