The Express Trials of Three Nicaraguan Political Prisoners

Political prisoner Guisella Ortega. Photo/Taken from social networks

They are accused of “conspiracy” and “false news”. The initial hearing was set for today, December 6th. CENIDH denounces “carbon copy” accusations.

By Octavio Enriquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The storm against 34-year-old professor and opposition member Guisella Elizabeth Ortega Ceron began when the Police found her on November 24 with her two-year-old baby. She was arbitrarily taken into detention and a repeated script ensued with that of other political prisoners: family separation, a routine accusation, an anxious prosecutor and a judge willing to accept judicial fabrications even on weekends.

The crimes charged to Guisella, who has been besieged by the dictatorship since 2018, were “provocation”, “proposition” and “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and propagation of “false news”.

According to a report published on October 24 by Confidencial, the dictatorship has convicted 45 Nicaraguans for “conspiracy” and “false news” up to that date, with sentences ranging from seven to thirteen years in prison. Among the victims are the seven presidential candidates who were imprisoned in the months prior to the 2021 vote when Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo re-elected themselves without competition or democratic guarantees.

If the documentation of the professor’s case shows anything, it is the speed with which the authorities of the justice system coordinate when they sit the prisoners of conscience on the bench of the accused. “The truth is that the 235 political prisoners in Nicaragua are innocent. They have not committed crimes,” commented an independent lawyer, who asked that his name be kept anonymous.

Prosecutor Sandro Efraín Peña acted against the educator, who formulating the charges in a seven-page document presented on Saturday, November 26, two days after her arrest. He also accused the professor’s niece, Heidi Walkiria Ortega, and Francisco Hernaldo Vasquez Delgado.

Repressive judge in charge of the “process”

That same Saturday, Judge Rolando Salvador Sanarrusia, who has a record of persecuting other political prisoners, held the preliminary hearing. Only 17 minutes later, he had already reprimanded the defendants to prison, after admitting the accusation in a session in the Sixth Managua Criminal.

Sanarrusia is one of the 23 judicial operators of the dictatorship, sanctioned by the United States on July 15, who they accused of undermining democratic institutions and discretionally exercising the legal procedure to present false charges against Nicaraguan government opponents.

The defendants were represented by a public defender. These are lawyers that the State makes available to those defendants who have no defense. For months, it has also been questioned, because these attorneys end up acting in favor of the interests of the regime’s prosecutors and judges.

In the first hearing, however, the defense attorney explained that there was not enough clarity in the facts, nor an “individualization” that would allow knowing how the professor, her niece and Mr. Vasquez participated in the prosecutor’s plot.

“In the second to last paragraph, it refers to the fact that the defendants organized plans against the Government, but they do not detail the plans, how they were going to be carried out, all this has to be detailed if a case it is admitted,” explained the public defender. However, after hearing the parties, the judge continued with the process and reprimanded the defendants to jail, setting an initial hearing for Tuesday, December 6th at 9:00 a.m.

However, according to what was reported in the media, Professor Ortega, known as “Taylor”, was prosecuted allegedly because the Police linked her to the printing of stickers with the colors of the Nicaraguan flag that are seen as subversive by the regime since 2018, when the State brutally repressed opponents.

Her niece is the owner of “Multistervicios Ortega” and Hernandez —the third defendant— of Copynic, the latter the company that rented printers and photocopiers to the former so that she could do her work, according to the independent portal Article 66.

CENIDH denounces “carbon copy” processes

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) said these types of express trials, fabricated by the State, are called “carbon copies”, which in legal language refers to the prefabricated documents that the State’s lawyers already have. They only change the names of the defendants and the dates of the facts to try, without success, to give credibility to the fabrication.

“If you look closely, all the accusations presented by the Prosecutor’s Office, regardless of the circumstances and the people, are always the same crimes: conspiracy or damage to the national integrity. Also, with the cybercrimes, they have a catch-all crime, perhaps what changes are the individual inventions to justify the accusations, but in reality they have no imagination. They give the impression that all of Nicaragua was in collusion carrying out the same action. They are repressing and working with a pre-established draft accusation to criminalize people,” explained Vilma Núñez, president of CENIDH.

Núñez added that the only one of the political prisoners who has been accused of a different crime was the sociologist Oscar Rene Vargas, who, in addition to accusing him of spreading false news and conspiracy, was charged with another crime: rebellion. In none of the cases, according to the jurist, do they have any grounds and what they are after is “increasing his sentence and criminalizing him more than the rest.”

“If the rest have been given from 7 to 13 years, beware, they will want to give Oscar Rene Vargas up to 30 years. Or who knows how many years, that’s the intention”, affirmed the human rights defender, who believes that all these events demonstrate the instrumentalization of the Judiciary to repress.

Vargas was arrested when he was at his sister’s house in Managua, whom he came to visit because she is in poor health. Despite the crimes charged, the sociologist is actually being punished for his criticism of the Ortega regime and for the criminalization of his work as a thinker, disclosed on his blog and in independent media.

The sociologist worked as an adviser to the National Directorate of the FSLN in the 1980s. He is an economist and historian and had denounced until his capture the serious crisis that the country is going through from the economic, social and political point of view. He blamed Daniel Ortega for the crisis and in the forced migration of many thousands of Nicaraguans.

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