An Ortega Judge Convicts Nicaraguan Business Leaders

COSEP directors Michael Healy and Alvaro Vargas were declared guilty as charged.  Photo: Confidential

The Prosecutor’s Office asks for nine years for Alvaro Vargas and thirteen years for Michael Healy.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), Michael Healy, and his vice president, Alvaro Vargas, were found guilty of fabricated crimes by a kangaroo court of the Ortega regime held on April 28-29 at the El Chipote jail where they are imprisoned.

The Prosecutor’s Office requested nine years in prison for Vargas for “undermining national integrity” and thirteen years for Healy, for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

Judge Angel Jeancarlos Fernandez oversaw the trial against the former Cosep representatives, whose conditions during these six months in prison are unknown. The same judge sentenced the civic leaders and prisoners of conscience: Dora Maria Tellez, Jose Antonio Peraza, Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena and Víctor Hugo Tinoco.

Healy and Vargas are the latest prisoners of conscience of some thirty social, civic, student and peasant leaders to be recently tried and convicted, mainly for the catch-all crimes of “conspiracy” and “propagation of false news.” All of them were detained in the repressive wave of 2021, in the lead up to the bogus general elections.

Healy was arrested by the Police on October 21, 2021, shortly after leaving the Public Ministry, where he had been summoned. His stay in the Prosecutor’s Office was short, about ten minutes because the appointment was rescheduled, he told journalists, who insisted on knowing the position of Cosep due to intensified repression with the arbitrary arrests of civic and political leaders, in addition to his individual position about the risk of being detained.

Meanwhile, the former president of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua (Upanic), Alvaro Javier Vargas Duarte, was arrested in his home.

On January 27, Cosep spoke in favor of a national dialogue “without preconditions”, joining the demand for the freedom of all the prisoners of conscience and the annulment of political trials, expressed in a statement by their relatives.

Private sector sources told CONFIDENCIAL in January that the current president of Cosep, Cesar Zamora, told the presidents of its different chambers in the session prior to the disclosure of its statement, that “we have to talk about a negotiation, a dialogue, a meeting, everything, since three friends are desperate, and we owe it to them.” However, in the document released by the employers’ organization there was no reference to the words of Zamora, an executive of the energy sector.

In a statement of October 21 from the Public Ministry, it was stated that Healy and Vargas would be investigated for the crime of laundering money, property and assets and other illicit acts, and for having breached the so-called Sovereignty Law. However, a Cosep official said that on January 21, Enrique Genie, attorney for the politically imprisoned businessmen, was surprised at the trial hearing when he verified that the charge of money laundering against his clients was dropped.

With the guilty verdict of Healy and Vargas, 55 people detained in 2021 have been convicted. Of the political prisoners who remain in the El Chipote jail, they are the only ones awaiting sentencing. The same goes for the former diplomat Edgard Parrales, who is in under house arrest.

In addition to Healy and Vargas, the regime has already condemned the former president of Cosep, Jose Adan Aguerri, and the banker Luis Rivas Anduray, executive president of Banpro.

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