The Nicaraguan regime of President Daniel Ortega has sentenced seven opposition leaders to serve time in prison in a new episode of the repression saga the Central American country is going through.
It all began last year as Ortega was running for a new term in office, which resulted in him winning the Nov. 7 elections with all political rivals eitheer in jail or in exile.
Among those sentenced this week on charges of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” were student leader Lesther Aleman and Dora Maria Tellez, a former comrade of Ortega's.
Aleman was sentenced to 13 years in jail for his involvement in an anti Ortega demonstration, while the former Sandinista rebel Tellez is to spend eight years in prison. Tellez had led an assault on the Presidential Palace in 1978 during the Somoza family dictatorship. She broke from Ortega’s party in 1995 and became head of an opposition group.
Human rights groups have said the trials were a sham. The international community has already questioned Ortega's electoral victory as well.
Aleman’s mother, Lesbia Alfaro, decried her son’s trial as “nonsense, a lie, a circus”. She added that “he is not a terrorist,” she said.
Former presidential hopeful and journalist Miguel Mora was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Wednesday.
Thousands have fled into exile since Nicaraguan security forces violently put down protests in 2018.
Ortega has said the protests were actually an attempted coup with foreign backing. Many of those on trial have been accused of working with foreign powers to overthrow him.
Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990 after leading the Sandinista rebel group which brought Anastasio Somoza's dictatorship to an end.
He returned to power in 2007 and has never lost an election again. His wife Rosario Murillo is the country's vice president.
The US and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Nicaragua over election-related and human rights abuses.