Sergio Beteta’s Message: Don’t Abandon Us Political Prisoners

Sergio Beteta was arrested on December 21 for raising the Nicaraguan flag and shouting slogans on the streets. Photo: Courtesy.

He burned an FSLN flag and the Police accuse him of carrying drugs and weapons in a backpack. “I was also carrying a tank,” he said satirically to his lawyer.

By Franklin Villavicencio (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Young Sergio Beteta was arrested for raising a Nicaraguan flag on the street. Now, accused of alleged drug trafficking and illegal possession of weapons, he expressed his concern about the situation of Nicaragua’s political prisoners. They remain in the penitentiaries of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship for fabricated crimes. Beteta also insists on the need for opposition unity, said his defense lawyer Julio Montenegro, after the initial hearing of the case on Monday, January 18, in Managua.

“He seems to be well, I even saw him very strong. He talked about the current situation in the country, noting the considerable lack of opposition unity. Instead he sees the interests of several people neglecting somewhat the situation of political prisoners,” assured Montenegro. The attorney is also a member of the People’s

In addition, Montenegro said, Beteta asked “his relatives and the people of Nicaragua” to fast and pray. “I saw him very spiritual and insisting on the issue of prayer to ask that things change in Nicaragua,” he explained.

Like most political prisoners, the Prosecutor’s Office accuses Sergio Beteta of drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession. Beteta finds the charges absurd. At a certain moment he satirically told his lawyer: “Yes, I was also carrying a tank in my backpack.” The young man was moved eight days ago from the infamous interrogation jail, known as “El Chipote,” to the “La Modelo” National Penitentiary System.

Instead of signing the minutes of the initial hearing, Beteta wrote along the page the phrase “Long live Free Nicaragua.” According to Montenegro an annoyed judge Karen Chavarria ripped the minutes up and had another copy printed.

“She said that this place was not to do politics, that if he had any opinions to express them at another time and place. I told the judge that he has the right to sign or not,” said the attorney.

[Nicaragua is under a Police State since September 2018. All public protest of any kind, no matter how small, is prohibited and severely punished often with the same fabricated charges.]

Judge denies illegal detention motion

The defense requested the judge declare nullity for illegal detention and evidence of injury, but both were denied. Sergio Beteta is accused of carrying three packages of marijuana and a firearm, an accusation that he denies and that Montenegro labeled illogical.

“It was clear that he could not have that amount of substance, using common sense. That was a reason for her to dismiss the hearing and release him,” he explained.

Beteta’s arrest was on December 21, after holding a one-man protest on “Avenida Universitaria.” He shouted slogans, burned the FSLN flag and raised that of Nicaragua. In a live broadcast carried out by the digital media “Articulo 66,” it is observed that a few minutes later the Police arrived. He was presented on December 23 and the trial is set for January 24.

“It is clear there is a situation that does not make sense. Those who carry out activities of that type are never going to expose themselves in that way,” said the lawyer, upon learning about the young man’s accusations. “The circumstances in which he appears in the live news, burning the (Sandinista) flag, calling for unity and questioning politicians.”

The young man is a self-organized protestor who in 2018 was part of the occupation at the UNAN-Managua university. Previously he participated in protests against the Ortega Government. He decided to carry out his latest activity after being “discouraged” by the siege levels by the National Police in the last months of 2020. The Police maintain a constant siege at the homes of opponents, relatives of political prisoners and victims of repression.

Attorney Montenegro said, “Everything indicates that this case will be the same as the other political trials. Although many issues contradict the thesis of the indictment, judicial authorities continue with the trials.” Despite this, he assures that the young man “remains strong.”

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