Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government on Monday released 91 opposition prisoners held following a deadly crackdown on 2018 protests in the Central American country. Among those released was Belgian-born student leader Amaya Coppens, her family and a local rights organization said.
The Interior Ministry said a total of 91 opponents had been released under what it called a special family coexistence program.
Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also Ortega's wife, said the move showed the government was seeking to contribute to reconciliation following more than a year of opposition protest against his rule.
Regime forces and pro-government militias have been blamed for more than 300 deaths since April last year, when protests against Ortega mushroomed into an uprising that was brutally suppressed.
Critics accuse Ortega, a former rebel hero who has been in power since 2007, of running a repressive dictatorship. He was most recently elected in 2016 for a mandate that would keep him in office until 2021.
Coppens was arrested in mid-November for being part of a group of volunteers trying to deliver water to hunger-striking mothers of political prisoners.
I feel a mixture of joy to see my family and anger to see how my two brothers were attacked a few days ago, Coppens said shortly after arriving at her home in the northern town of Esteli. She said her brothers had been attacked by armed groups during a peaceful protest.
Coppens, 25 - who has been jailed twice in the last two years for her part in anti-government protests - said she will continue to demand freedom, justice and democracy for Nicaragua.
Earlier in the day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights chief Pablo Abrao called the releases good news for Nicaragua.
Julio Montenegro, the head of Defenders of the People, a local humanitarian organization, said Coppens and the others would be held under house arrest and had been handed over to their families.
The opposition Civic Alliance, behind a push to have all those arrested during the crisis released by Christmas, said 148 political prisoners were being held in Nicaraguan jails up to Dec 27.
There are still brothers in the cells, the Alliance said following Monday's announcement, calling on the government to release all political prisoners.
Jose Aguerri, the president of the country's business association, said on Twitter that the releases were due to lobbying from the Apostolic Nuncio, Stanislaw Waldemar.