Trial begins against opponent Cristiana Chamorro in Nicaragua

The trial against the opposition and former candidate for the presidency of Nicaragua Cristiana Chamorro began this Thursday behind closed doors in a Managua prison amid an “exaggerated police presence,” reported a humanitarian organization.

Chamorro, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), is being prosecuted at the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ) of the Managua Police, known as El Chipote, where since February 1 trials against several opponents arrested last year.

“Not satisfied with the illegality of holding a trial in a prison, they have now also militarized the entire perimeter of the El Chipote judicial complex in an intimidating manner,” denounced the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) on Twitter.

According to the agency, there is “an exaggerated police presence” in the area.

Cristiana, under house arrest since June 2, is accused by the prosecution of money laundering through the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), which she directed in the past to promote freedom of the press.

The 68-year-old opponent is also accused of abusive management, ideological falsehood, retention and appropriation. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, through the now defunct foundation, money was received to destabilize the government.

Cristiana, also a journalist, is one of the forty opponents detained in the framework of the electoral process last November, where Ortega won his fourth consecutive term.

She appeared as the favorite in the polls to face Ortega, in power since 2007.

Along with Cristiana, her brother Pedro Joaquín and two former FVBCH officials, Walter Gómez and Marcos Fletes, are also being prosecuted. Also Cristiana Chamorro’s driver, Pedro Vázquez, all detained.

According to Pedro Joaquín’s lawyer, Maynor Curtis, the trial could last several days because the Prosecutor’s Office plans to present “13 civilian witnesses and 20 police witnesses” as evidence.

“Each witness is going to be questioned by the prosecution and later they will be questioned by each of the defenses,” he explained to AFP.

The prosecution will also question five experts about the data stolen by the Police from the equipment, cell phones of the accused and the foundation, he added.

The defender said that it is the first time that they will see Cristiana, who has remained “isolated” in her home. “Only her children can visit her”, nor have the lawyers been able to “have contact with her” before the trial, he pointed out.

At least 31 opponents have been found guilty to date, of which 18 received sentences ranging from 8 to 13 years in prison.

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