The Public Ministry requested a term of up to 90 days in prison to expand the alleged “investigation” against the priest Oscar Benavidez Davila. The State considers itself “victim and offended” by the actions of the religious, but in the judicial file it does not specify the crime that he allegedly committed.
The request for a special hearing on constitutional guarantees is in “process”. It was carried out on Monday, August 15 at 2:09 pm by prosecutor Manuel de Jesús Rugama, a former police officer loyal to the ruling party and prominent in fabricating cases against prisoners of conscience.
The petition is based on a reform to the Penal Code, carried out by the National Assembly on February 3 of last year, which allowed the Sandinista deputies to extend the detention for the investigation of suspected criminals from 48 hours to three months.
Benavidez was kidnapped by police officers on Sunday, August 14 at 5:50 pm, almost two hours after finishing his last mass at the Immaculate Conception Chapel in Mulukukú. This town is located in the far north Caribbean of Nicaragua, where this 50-year-old man is recognized for his charisma. He took possession of the Espiritu Santo parish last May 25.
After his capture, when the bewildered residents approached the Police to find out the whereabouts of the priest, the officers informed them of his transfer to “Managua” without specifying whether they took him to the Directorate of Judicial Assistance known as “El Chipote”, a place denounced as a torture center by human rights organizations. Church sources affirm that he is being held there, although the police authorities have not commented.
According to file number 0817-ORM4-2022-PN, the judge in charge of the process is Gloria María Saavedra Corrales, from the Tenth Criminal Court of Hearing in Managua, another of the courts that have acted against political prisoners as part of a network of officials who have subordinated their judicial decisions to the will of the ruling party.
On the day of his capture, Benavidez became the third priest arrested by the Daniel Ortega regime since last June. This action is part of the repressive escalation against the Catholic Church that has resulted in the closure of seven radio stations in the Diocese of Matagalpa, the desecration of the Sébaco parish, the forcible confinement of the Bishop Rolando Álvarez in the Episcopal Curia of this department in northern Nicaragua, where he is still accompanied by eight collaborators and the recent police siege in Ciudad Darío.
Parishioners interviewed by CONFIDENTIAL They said that the priest Benavidez is recognized for his charisma. Before arriving in Mulukukú, where he is in charge of the Espiritu Santo parish, he served as a former advisor to the Youth Ministry of the Diocese of Matagalpa, according to data published on the social networks of that Catholic community in 2016.
The other two priests arrested were Manuel García de Nandaime and Monsignor Leonardo Urbina. The first was accused of an alleged assault on a woman. The other for the rape of a minor, however, independent jurists question that due process has been failed in both trials.
The repression against the Catholic Church has intensified. On Tuesday, August 16, a riot patrol asked for the priest Vicente Martínez, critic of Ortega, in the church of Santa Lucía in Ciudad Darío. The presence of the officers forced the vicar Sebastián López, of the Santa Lucía church, to celebrate mass from the atrium. While the officers were in a nearby corner observing, the faithful accompanied the religious and gave him encouragement in the midst of the persecution environment.
According to journalistic records, the prosecutor Manuel Rugama had a prominent role in the persecution of journalists in the case of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, two drivers of the newspaper La Prensa arrested for journalistic coverage of the expulsion of 18 nuns from the order of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, among others. Judge Saavedra Corrales inhibited for her part in 2021 the former vice-presidential candidate for Citizens for Freedom (CxL), Berenice Quezada.