Why Nicaragua Needs a Special Prosecutor’s Office

A Special Prosecutor’s Office and an international investigation are urgently needed to clear up the murder of prisoner Eddy Montes and the dictatorship’s crimes.

By Carlos F. Chamorro  (Confidencial)

A person holds up a poster with the photo of Eddy Montes, a political prisoner killed by the Ortega regime at the La Modelo prison. Photo: Jorge Torres / EFE

HAVANA TIMES – The murder of political prisoner, Eddy Montes Praslin, by a prison guard in the La Modelo prison last Thursday, should be the Ortega Murillo dictatorship’s last political crime.

Eddy Montes never should’ve been arrested in Matagalpa, because he never committed any crime.  He was a political prisoner accused of common crimes for having participated in the civic protest.

The day they killed him, he should’ve been free, because he was included in the list of political prisoners agreed upon between the government and the International Red Cross, that Ortega had committed to releasing within a 90-day term.

However, this man of peace known in the prison as “the pastor” because he led religious services, is dead. Killed by a bullet shot into his back by a weapon of war while at least 17 of his prison mates were seriously injured, in a brutal act of repression carried out by the penitentiary system’s forces.

The Nicaraguan Interior Ministry has tried to justify the murder, claiming that Montes and other prisoners attacked the guards and that they shot him in self-defense.  That’s the excuse presented by a regime that has made lies a State policy, starting with President Ortega, who acts as Liar-In-Chief and his spokesperson, Vice-president Rosario Murillo, broadcasting the lies through Foreign Affairs, the Police, the Prosecutor’s office and now the authorities of the Interior Ministry.

However, countering the lies are the testimonies of the prisoners who were witnesses to the murder, the shells of the bullets shot and photos and videos of those injured, which make up conclusive evidence of a new crime against humanity.

The international community is demanding Ortega’s regime to carry out a thorough investigation of this act of violence, in which a US citizen was killed, to clarify the facts.

But, can Ortega and his dictatorial structures investigate themselves?

Does Attorney General Ana Julia Guido, and the Chief of Police, Francisco Díaz, have the autonomy to carry out this investigation, apart from the presidential couple who order and command from the El Carmen bunker?

Hasn’t the mockery and pain of more than 300 killings executed since April 18 to date which have never been investigated and have been left in impunity been enough?

All those deaths, originated out of the irrational violence unleashed by Ortega and Murillo’s ambition for power, never should’ve happened however, neither should they get buried in oblivion.  The clarification of the truth represents one of the fundamental pillars for the democratic re-founding of the Nicaraguan State.  That is why to establish the truth about Montes’ murder and all of the dictatorship’s crimes, it is imperative to heed the recommendation of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) to create a Special Prosecutor’s Office, expressed in October of last year.

“The GIEI considers”, said one of their spokespersons on that occasion, “that faced with the absence of guarantees of independent and objective actions by the penal system, the State should urgently establish a Special Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the acts of violence.”

This recommendation, backed by the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro and the IACHR, is part of the GIEI’s final report, presented in December, and represents the only alternative to recover trust and credibility in the Interior Ministry, with national and international prosecutors that qualify with the requirements of autonomy and aptitude, to place the bases for a system based on truth and justice.

Carlos F. Chamorro

“It’s essential that the Nicaragua State allow the re-entry of international organizations of protection such as the MESENI (IACHR) and  the OHCHR.  To form a Special Prosecutor’s office to help clear up the facts and advance in the investigations, conditions that guarantee its independence are required. And in that sense, the presence of both organizations is urgent, not only to be a guardian of  Nicaraguans’ human rights, but to accompany the construction of the institutions needed to guarantee the victims’ access to justice,” explained Guatemalan prosecutor Claudia Paz y Paz, member of the GIEI and current director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

The murder of a political prisoner in prison, who was totally defenseless, surpasses the limit of the repression seen up until today.  It was the latest in the dictatorship’s final drift towards higher levels of cruelty and subjugation.  Ortega has shown that he not only considers the prisoners as political hostages, but that he is willing to kill them in prison, to put an end to the civic protest’s leadership. 

The country is facing a threat of great danger, which must be stopped by the Nicaraguan Army, before a new carnage is unleashed.  Meanwhile, let’s not ask Ortega to investigate himself.  Let’s demand now a Special Prosecutor and an independent international investigation to clarify the crime against Eddy Montes Praslin.