Nicaraguan opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro Barrios was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for “money laundering, property and assets laundering, misappropriation and improper retention, abusive management, and ideological falsehood,” it was reported in Managua.
Chamorro, daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, had been placed under house arrest last year and subsequently banned from running in the Nov. 7 elections which President Daniel Ortega won by a landslide, albeit with all of his rivals either in jail or in exile.
Violeta Barrios had defeated Ortega to become President in 1990.
Chamorro, a 68-year-old journalist by profession, was sentenced by Judge Luden Martin Quiroz, of the Ninth Criminal Trial District Court of Managua, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) said in a statement.
Daughter of the murdered Nicaraguan hero and anti-Somocista journalist Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, Cristiana looked poised to win the Nov. 7 elections in which Ortega was reelected alongside his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice-president.
Cristiana's brother Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios was sentenced to nine years in prison for similar charges, Cenidh reported.
Lawyer Vilma Núñez, president of Cenidh, also told The Associated Press that Walter Gómez and Marcos Fletes, administrator and accountant of the outlawed Violeta Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), were sentenced to 13 years in prison, while driver Pedro Vásquez was given seven years in prison.
Cristiana Chamorro has been allowed to stay under house arrest, while all the men convicted will remain at the El Chipote jailhouse.
Núñez also pointed out that to all those convicted, except Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the judge also imposed millionaire fines, impossible to pay, which could result in life imprisonment for the defendants. These are null and void sentences, they are innocent and we demand their immediate release, said the veteran human rights activist, who has followed several of the trials of some 46 opposition leaders, journalists, businessmen, and ex-diplomats imprisoned for more than eight months.
After Cristiana Chamorro, six other presidential hopefuls were imprisoned during the electoral campaign, among the 46 opponents arrested.
After a seven-day trial, Cristiana Chamorro had been found guilty of all charges. Ortega's government argues that she carried out irregular transactions from the FVBCH with funds from governments and international organizations.
The Chamorro Foundation, which ceased operations in January 2021 and was closed by the government last month, was dedicated to promoting training courses for journalists and financing media and projects in defense of freedom of expression. The Chamorro family also owns the newspaper La Prensa, which was closed by the government and is still confiscated by the police.
La Prensa manager Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro is also jailed since August 2021.