Nicaragua: Bishop critical of Ortega celebrates 3 months in a "legal limbo"

Nicaragua: Bishop critical of Ortega celebrates 3 months in a "legal limbo"

The Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarezwho was in charge of the Diocese of Matagalpa, located about 130 kilometers from Managua, served more than three months locked up in a residence in the capital without any known charges against him.

The Nicaraguan justice system accused seven people who were with the priest of the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity and propagation of false news.”

The accusation was made after Bishop Álvarez was taken away by the National Police in the early hours of the morning of August 19 and transferred with the 7 people who accompanied him to Managua.

The bishop was taken, according to the authorities, to a house where he is “under home protection” and the companions were transferred to the prison known as El Chipote.

Among the accused are four priests, two seminarians and a cameraman from the Diocese of Matagalpa.

There is no accusation despite the fact that he is locked up in a house

according to a reform to the Nicaraguan Procedural Code, a person can be investigated for three months without being charged, but for this a preliminary hearing must be held in which a judge dictates the need to expand the case.

“It is an arbitrary and unconstitutional detention, his freedom is deprived. The Constitution is in charge of indicating that a person can be deprived of liberty for being found in ” flagrante delicto ” or by a judicial order “, says the lawyer of the Human Rights Collective, Gonzalo Carrión.

The researcher and lawyer Martha Patricia Molina agrees with this, who emphasizes that no accusation against Monsignor Álvarez appears in the judicial system, so she considers that his condition could be classified as “kidnapping.”

“The situation of Bishop Álvarez is one of kidnapping. He was transferred to another place, he has been kidnapped for 97 days, in this criminal offense, it worsens when ten days have passed since he was kidnapped and it is more serious when an authority is involved,” the expert told the VOA.

The Ortega government has not ruled on the matter, however the National Police said in a press release on the day of the arrest that it was carried out “due to the persistence of the destabilizing and provocative activities” supposedly sponsored by the priest.

“The most logical thing is that after the arrest the Police would pronounce themselves, and they would say in a guarantee hearing that (the priest) will be investigated for 90 days, he is still under kidnapping,” Molina said.

Nicaragua has been experiencing a political crisis since 2018 when protests arose against President Daniel Ortega, who has branded the demonstrations as “coup plotters.”

The president has accused the Catholic Church of “demons in cassocks” and since 2022 has arrested at least 11 priests, and several laymen.

The United States, as well as other countries, have demanded an end to the persecution of the Church and have alerted the international community about the situation in the Central American country.

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