The Ortega Murillo regime released images of political prisoner, Felix Maradiaga, this Saturday, July 2, during a court hearing in which an appeal against his conviction was rejected, a day after his wife Berta Valle’s desperate call to be allowed to check on his situation after 389 days in jail and solitary confinement.
Maradiaga, who displays a visible weight loss and lack of sunshine in photographs and videos, appeared before the judge, the police, and the pro-government journalists who harassed him with serenity and firmness.
He was the only one of six political prisoners, presented this weekend in the Managua courts, to hear the ratification of their sentences, adopted by the Court of Appeals of Managua, another of the repressive links of the dictatorship.
The sentence was signed last May 26 by the magistrates of Criminal Court 1, presided by Octavio Rothschuh, who admits that the Appeals sentence “has already been notified” in minute 5:13 of the video released by the pro-government media.
“If it was already notified, then why hold this hearing? This makes no sense other than as a show against Maradiaga, who does not even appear in the video with his defense attorney. It is one more example of the viciousness of the system,” explained a lawyer, on condition of anonymity.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) also publicly questioned the judiciary for its actions against Maradiaga.
During Saturday's hearing, the dictatorship's propaganda media took the opportunity to accuse Maradiaga of “lying to Nicaragua”, while describing him as a “delinquent” in their headlines.
“I don't know what lie he is referring to. We are in total isolation. The penal system we are in does not allow any news from outside. I have always spoken the truth, this is a political trial”, the former presidential candidate said, defending himself.
Maradiaga's 13-year sentence was for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity”.
According to the Appeals resolution, 13 years were confirmed to former presidential candidates Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro, as well as to business leader Jose Adan Aguerri and former congressman Jose Pallais; nine years to former candidate Arturo Cruz; and eight years to opposition leaders Tamara Davila and Violeta Granera.
Berta Valle asks to open El Chipote to organizations
Maradiaga's wife, Berta Valle, demanded on social networks that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the International Red Cross, and the United Nations (UN) Group of Independent Experts be allowed to verify the health condition of her husband and the other political prisoners subjected to isolation by the Police.
Valle's request received the support of five organizations of relatives of political prisoners who issued a statement: the Association of Relatives, the Pro-Liberation Committee, the relatives of political prisoners in El Chipote since May 2021, the Group of United Political Hostages and Victims of April.
“It is urgent to ascertain the state of health of political prisoners in the different prisons of all the penitentiary systems of the country, in the face of complaints of mistreatment,” says the statement of the organizations.
Maradiaga's trial has been characterized by irregularities since his arbitrary detention last year in the context of the presidential elections, in which Ortega locked up his main competitors and sowed terror among the citizenry to guarantee his reelection.
The repressive escalation led to the imprisonment of at least 60 leaders from the political, economic, and social sectors. During the days of imprisonment of these victims, their relatives have denounced that they are subjected to interrogations, sleep deprivation, and isolation, while the regime prevents their defense lawyers from having access to the files so that they can carry out their defense.
Last Friday, Valle claimed that her husband has lost 60 pounds, while she released a composite portrait that illustrates the physical deterioration of the opposition politician. Her urgent appeal aroused the solidarity of the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro.
Valle said Saturday that she “wants to reiterate (the demand that) they show me my husband and I want a guarantee that he is well, something that at this level of torture and incommunicado detention that they have him and the 190 political prisoners in Nicaragua”.
Maradiaga has been on hunger strike for twelve days to demand an end to the solitary confinement and incommunicado detention to which prisoners of conscience are subjected under the Ortega dictatorship.
The president of CENIDH, Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, also considered at that time that the hunger strike is a “legitimate defense mechanism” against the cruelty suffered by political prisoners in Nicaragua.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.