Ortega Prohibits Investigation of Brazil Med Student Murder

The Brazilian Rayneia Lima was murdered coming home from work in a hospital in Nicaragua in July 2018. Photo/Taken from social networks

The Ortega-Murillo government refuses to allow access to the files, arguing, “it’s a political crime that has received amnesty.” Victim’s mother demands that her country apply the principle of “extraterritoriality.”

By Octavio Enriquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Ortega regime has refused to offer Brazil international legal cooperation in criminal matters, closing the doors to any further investigation of the July 23, 2018 murder of Brazilian student Rayneia Lima* in Managua. According to official documents from the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office in Pernambuco, the Nicaraguan authorities asserted: “it’s a political crime that received amnesty.”

On May 22, Brazilian prosecutor Luis Antonio Miranda Amorin, informed lawyers that the Nicaraguan authorities had denied them access to a comprehensive copy of the official investigation and judicial reports regarding this situation.

“The documentation contains a letter with the request for international legal assistance in criminal matters (…) a formal request that this Attorney General’s Office directed to Nicaragua, with the objective of obtaining a complete copy of the investigative and judicial acts related to the murder of Rayneia,” noted Prosecutor Miranda, underscoring that the request had been denied.

The Brazilian authorities added that in the absence of further communication from the Nicaraguan authorities within 90 days, Lima’s case will be archived in the Department. However, they didn’t discount the possibility of formulating a new request for cooperation, “or for the adoption of other measures considered convenient.” They didn’t specify what these other measures could entail.

The Nicaraguan government’s response could also be an indication of how the dictatorship will respond if its collaboration is required in other international cases where they’re being investigated for human rights violations in third countries, warned the lawyers who assist family members of victims in their search for justice.

“They tolerate and encourage impunity”

In the eyes of the lawyers, the Nicaraguan government’s refusal [to collaborate] confirms the existence of “a policy that tolerates and encourages impunity” in the country. This policy extends to serious cases of human rights violations of Nicaraguan citizens and foreigners in the context of the sociopolitical crisis that has engulfed Nicaragua since the widespread protests of 2018.

On May 22, these same attorneys asked the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to rule on the violations committed by the Nicaraguan government in case number 15 099. The lawyers hope that this will contribute to raising a subsequent demand in the Inter-American Human Rights Court, based in Costa Rica.

The murder of Rayneia Lima is one symbol of the impunity fostered by the Ortega regime. The man accused of the crime, Pierson Gutierrez Solis, was an Ortega paramilitary who received amnesty in 2019.

“The Amnesty Law applied to Mr. Gutierrez is a law that is incompatible with international human rights standards, since it denies access to justice and effective judicial protection to the next of kin of Rayneia Gabrielle Da Costa Lima Rocha, also violating their right to be heard by an independent and impartial tribunal. Further, impunity is promoted and its objective is to hinder accountability processes, as demonstrated by the refusal to provide the required legal assistance,” the attorneys affirmed in a letter sent to the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office on June 2nd.

They recalled that Gutierrez was presented by the Police as the author of the shots fired on July 27, 2018. These same authorities explained that they captured Gutierrez with an M4 carabine rifle, without offering any further details about his life and the circumstances in which the murder occurred.

Brazil, Lula and the principle of “extraterritoriality”

The fight against impunity in the case of Rayneia Lima’s murder is a challenge for the Brazilian government authorities. Brazil’s current president, leftist leader Luiz Inacio Da Silva of the Workers Party, has had historic ties with Ortega. Nonetheless, in August 2021, he directly criticized Ortega for pushing for a fourth consecutive mandate, imploring that he “not abandon democracy.”

Up until now, Lula’s position in the case of the murdered med student isn’t known. However, Lima’s mother, Maria Jose Da Costa, continues demanding justice. She recently sent another letter to the Pernambuco Public Prosecutor’s Office recalling that Brazil has an obligation to protect the lives of its citizens, and suggesting they promote “an eventual process of justice that was denied in Nicaragua.”

The mother demanded a display of institutional political will to apply the “legal principle of passive personality,” which grants the government power to pursue and sanction crimes committed outside their territory. The letter mentioned that the high Brazilian authorities recently began a debate on the application of extraterritoriality to the Criminal Code when Brazilian citizens are crime victims, as occurred with her daughter.

Da Costa’s lawyers explained that she was referring to the case of the Brazilian soccer player Vinicius Junior who plays on the Real Madrid team in Spain and was recently the victim of racist attacks in that country.

Brazilian Minister of Justice Flavio Dino told the EFE news agency on May 23 that, in the case of the soccer player, they’re studying the possible adoption of the “extraterritoriality principle,” given that the Criminal Code in their country foresees that in certain exceptional situations, it’s possible to apply the Brazilian laws to crimes committed against citizens of their country even when they occur outside Brazil.

Experts assure that in Nicaragua there was never a thorough investigation of the case. They added that the crime occurred in a context of generalized government violence using high caliber weapons to repress the citizen protests. Ortega’s paramilitary forces also participated in direct attacks on the population.

According to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, at least 355 people were killed and 2000 injured in the period from April 18, 2018 to July 31, 2019. During that phase of the repression, according to reports from international organizations including the United Nations, crimes against humanity were committed.

The Brazilian student who was killed hadn’t participated in the protests. The day before her murder, she completed her last social service rounds in Managua’s Carlos Roberto Huembes Hospital, which serves the Police. At 11 pm on July 23, 2018, she was killed while driving through a zone near the home of Francisco Lopez Centeno, Daniel Ortega’s treasurer.

“The accusation from Nicaragua’s Public Prosecutor called the crime a homicide, when the same set of facts makes clear that it was a murder. Similarly, he (Pierson Gutierrez) was accused of the misdemeanor of carrying firearms, as if it were a weapon authorized for civilian use, when it was a firearm that can only be used by State security forces,” noted the Brazilian attorneys.

*[Editor’s Note: çRayneia Lima was a 31-year-old Brazilian medical student who was killed on July 23, 2018 when her car was riddled by gunfire in the Lomas de Monserrat neighborhood of Managua, near a guarded security perimeter that surrounds Albanisa, an enormous Venezuelan – Nicaraguan private company. The person accused was a member of Daniel Ortega’s paramilitary.]

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