Ortega’s Police Arrest Defense Attorney Maria Oviedo

There are now 31 new political prisoners since the end of May and over 140 total.

Attorney Maria Oviedo.  Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The Police of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo arrested lawyer Maria Oviedo, coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), on Thursday July 29th in Leon, confirmed that human rights organization.

The president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Vilma Nunez, said that Oviedo was at her mother’s house when two police vehicles and around thirty policemen arrived to arrest her. She was then taken from Leon to the infamous New El Chipote Police Complex, in Managua.

At first, the reasons for the arrest were unknown. “They took her out of her mother’s house, where she was brushing her teeth. They did not let her take anything with her. They just took her away (…),” assured Nunez.

Later it became known that Oviedo was arrested for the catch-all treason Law 1055, used to imprison opposition leaders, politicians and activists.

The capture occurs in a context of worsening governmental repression against opponents, which has left dozens of new political prisoners, and greater risk for their defense lawyers, who have denounced, under anonymity, being victims of harassment, threats and criminalization of their profession. With Oviedo, there are 31 Nicaraguans, including seven presidential candidates arrested in the latest wave of repression.

Oviedo participated last Sunday in the online Esta Semana program to analyze the violations of the rights of recent political prisoners, some with more than 60 days incommunicado from their relatives and lawyers.

The lawyer questioned the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that a person can be detained for up to 90 days for the purpose of “investigation,” which she considered unconstitutional and totally in violation of human rights, she said on that occasion.

With this reform “the presumption of innocence and due process are seriously violated,” Oviedo noted, and the way it is implemented “we (the Permanent Commission for Human Rights) warned at the time of its birth, was going to be a political weapon that the regime was going to use to persecute the opposition,” she stressed on the July 25th program.

Now Oviedo is also a victim of the same arbitrary human rights violation she spoke of.

New Arrest

This is the second time that Oviedo, who has defended several cases of political prisoners, and is currently the lawyer for political prisoners Medardo Mairena and Pedro Mena, has been arrested. The first occasion occurred in 2019 in the Masaya police station, after being accused of attacking an officer, when she was accompanying former political prisoner Cristian Fajardo.

For that reason, she was subjected to a judicial process and declared guilty of obstructing of functions to the detriment of the police lieutenant, Oscar Lopez. Oviedo denounced that the officer insulted her and tried to lewdly touch her.

On July 25 Confidencial published a report on how the Government set its new wave of persecution against lawyers and detailed how five lawyers for political prisoners have gone into exile after the increase in threats against them and the risk that they “fabricate” accusations against them.

Lawyer Boanerges Fornos, coordinator of “Acción Penal” and defender of political prisoners since 2018 and one of the exiles, assured that the risk of criminalization of lawyers is real and may become more acute as the electoral process approaches.

“The level of exposure and possibility that something will happen to you is known by each lawyer in a particular way. We know that there is a high risk for our fellow defense attorneys,” he warned.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.