Nicaragua's Judiciary Friday ruled in favour of starting criminal proceedings against three presidential candidates as well as other opposition politicians for “treason against the fatherland” and for undermining the country's sovereignty, it was announced.
The decision was made 66 days before the presidential elections. Almost all defendants are already under preventive detention.
A court of justice has ordered to prosecute presidential candidates Félix Maradiaga, Arturo Cruz and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, according to a statement from Prosecutor's Office.
The decision came a day after also presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, accused of money laundering through the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), was put up for trial.
Chamorro, under house arrest since June 2, has always denied the charges and claimed these actions were aimed at barring her from the November 7 elections. President Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007 and seeking a fourth term, believes that the detained opponents are seeking to overthrow him with the support of the United States.
Cruz was arrested on June 5, while Maradiaga and Chamorro were remanded on June 8, as part of a wave of incarcerations of social leaders, businessmen, students and politicians on charges of undermining independence, sovereignty, self-determination and inciting foreign intervention.
In addition to the three presidential candidates, seven detained opponents will also be prosecuted, including business leader José Aguerri, former guerrillas Hugo Torres Jiménez, Dora Téllez, Víctor Tinoco, as well as leaders Suyen Barahona and Violeta Granera.
All of them were placed in custody between June and July and the court admitted the accusation of conspiracy to undermine national integrity, the prosecution said.
Added to the list of defendants was political scientist Manuel Orozco Ramírez, an expert on migration and development issues who has lived in the United States for years. Orozco has been linked to the alleged financing of destabilizing campaigns against the government through a network of political organizations and the media.
Orozco was declared a fugitive from justice and with a judicial arrest warrant, pending the holding of his hearing, according to the official report.
Friday's second day of hearings was held in the Police Judicial Aid jail, known as El Chipote, without access to the press or family. Another day of illegality. More secret hearings continue to be held in El Chipote, this is a violation of the guarantees of due process, denounced the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH).
The 75-year-old Ortega ruled Nicaragua between 1979 and 1990, first as the head of a revolutionary Governing Board after overthrowing dictator Anastasio Somoza and then as president. In 1990 he was defeated by former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and returned to power in 2007 and remains to this day.
The arrest of opponents has led to increased sanctions and criticism from the international community. Ortega refuses to release his political rivals, claiming that they are criminals and that they conspired to stage a coup, with the support of the United States.