Attorney Fears Maradiaga & Chamorro Could Get 15-25 Years

Felix Maradiaga y Juan Sebastian Chamorro. File photos: La Prensa

Jared Genser catalogued as “horrifying” the regime’s charges against the two opposition leaders. They’re being accused of “conspiracy to undermine the nation,” which carries very severe penalties.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – The US-based lawyer defending Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro called the charges against the two Nicaraguan opposition leaders, “a flagrant violation” of their rights. Attorney Jared Genser was referring to the accusation of “conspiracy to undermine the national integrity” recently presented by the Public Prosecutor at a secret hearing. Genser noted that a guilty verdict for these charges would carry a sentence of 15 – 25 years in prison.

“It’s as horrifying as it is frightening that Felix and Juan Sebastian have been accused of such shamelessly political charges, which could bring them 15 to 25 years in prison. As if this weren’t bad enough, the Ortega regime hasn’t even bothered to try and make the process appear legitimate,” Genser asserted in a public statement.

According to Genser, if his defendants are found guilty of “undermining the national intergrity”, as described in Article 410 of the Nicaraguan Criminal Code, they can be sentenced to 10 – 15 years in prison. If at the same time, they’re found guilty of “provocation, proposition and conspiracy”, according to Article 412, they can be sentenced to 5 – 10 years more. Adding both together brings a possible sentence of 15 to 25 years.

The defense lawyer denounced that there’s no indication which judge presided over the “secret hearing” supposedly held for Maradiaga and Chamorro, nor if they were even present in the hearing room. Their local lawyers weren’t notified of the proceedings, nor were they present.

“Keep them quiet indefinitely”

Genser declared that the 80-day disappearance of Maradiaga and Chamorro is tantamount to “torture” under international law. He explained that the accusation is a “flagrant violation” of their rights, because practically none of the due process protections provided under Nicaraguan and international law were respected.

International lawyer Jared Genser. Courtesy photo: La Prensa

The attorney enumerated some of these due process violations: the right to a public hearing, not a secret one; the right to a lawyer; the right to be tried before an independent and impartial judge; the right to the presumption of innocence; and the right to bail. He added: “the worst thing is that the Ortega regime apparently has the intention of holding them incommunicado indefinitely.”

Attorney urges the international community to demand proof they’re alive

In the face of this panorama, Attorney Genser urged the international community to demand that Daniel Ortega present “proof of life” for Maradiaga and Chamorro, and continue to demand the liberation of the more than 150 Nicaraguan political prisoners.

“The only reason that Ortega is behaving in such an openly inhumane manner is because he believes he has a license to act with total impunity. The world should show him that there are grave and deep consequences for treating people this way,” Genser manifested.

In addition, Genser called on the international community to “adopt concerted measures to confront Daniel Ortega’s wave of repression in Nicaragua, which clearly represents the most shameless frontal attack on democracy and human rights in the world.”

The US lawyer also reproached Ortega for his failure to comply with the protective measures dictated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favor of his clients and three other opposition leaders. Instead, they directly infringed the Court order to immediately free Maradiaga and Chamorro, and to take measures to protect their safety and welfare. “The Nicaraguan government has dramatically intensified their repression of both men, by accusing them of charges that are clearly political, and ordering them to remain incommunicado and in a state of forced disappearance indefinitely.”

This Friday, the Inter-American Court held a public hearing for supervision of the measures. The regime did not participate, although they had been summoned. Relatives and representatives of those imprisoned asked the IHR Court to demand that the regime present proof that their relatives are alive, as well as their immediate liberation.

US Senator demands that the charges be immediately revoked

Jim Risch, Republican senator and a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee condemned on his Twitter page the fact that the Ortega regime continues ignoring the rule of law, as exemplified in the accusations against Maradiaga and Chamorro. “The Ortega regime in #Nicaragua continues to ignore the rule of law by applying unjustified charges on opposition candidates @maradiaga & @Jschamorrog. These charges should be immediately dropped & both men should be released.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.