Justice Ileana Pérez, president of the Civil and Family Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), resigned in the midst of a power struggle between Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo and the intervention of the Sandinista Front, which controls the judiciary.
The letter of resignation is dated Friday, October 21. It was addressed to the first secretary of the National Assembly and in it Perez argued "health reasons" for resigning from a post he assumed in 2014 with the backing of Daniel Ortega's regime, following the death then of Sandinista magistrate Ligia Molina.
"I am addressing you in order to present my resignation from the position of magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice for health reasons and that requires attention, placing the position at your disposal," wrote Perez, who this week was demoted by the leadership of the governing party.
The information of her resignation was revealed by the media of the presidential family, which also announced that the communication will be officially presented next Tuesday in the National Assembly, under control of the ruling party, for its immediate approval.
In recent days, the regime had removed her from the district of Rivas and Granada, where the justice system usually administers cases of valuable coastal properties and drug trafficking. According to sources consulted by CONFIDENCIAL, the demotion was a consequence of old corruption cases in which she was allegedly involved.
Pérez is the fourth official to fall, as a result of the FSLN intervention in the Judicial Power, thus reaffirming the party control in the institution, characterized for being the repressive arm of the dictatorship. In addition to the magistrate, the spokesperson of the CSJ, Roberto Larios, was arrested, and before that, the director of international relations and the director of protocol of the same institution were dismissed.
On Thursday, October 20, in the midst of internal versions of the CSJ about an alleged new transfer to the police prison El Chipote to be investigated, the Judicial Power published a press release in which they informed about the participation of Judge Perez in a workshop on the specialty of evidence in the civil process with a gender perspective.
However, this press release was later removed from the Judicial Branch website. Perez, on the day of the alleged appointment to El Chipote, answered a phone call and refused to comment on her case, arguing that she was "busy" at the gym. This Saturday, October 22, she did not even answer and her cell phone mailbox was full.
Magistrate Ileana Perez under police custody
Sources indicated to CONFIDENCIAL that the high official is at home under police custody in what represents the resounding fall of one of the most loyal magistrates to Ortega in the CSJ. In this sense, they commented that the dictator maintained her despite the recommendation to "get rid of her" due to an accumulation of denunciations of corruption and arbitrariness, among them abuses against her subordinates in the departments of Rivas and Granada.
In response to the questions, the dictatorship's security advisor, Néstor Moncada Lau, and the vice-president of the CSJ and political secretary of the FSLN in the institution, Marvin Aguilar García, allegedly defended the magistrate.
The same sources indicated that in the last weeks, Perez was engaged in "cleaning up clues" in the public records of precise movements in her benefit. They also claim that "pages torn from the books" of the records related to this issue appeared.
Perez's fall from grace began last February 4 when she was taken to the police prison El Chipote. She was then questioned about the case of a drug trafficker's property, which was seized and assigned to her brother Emilio Chan Lopez, who held the position of civil judge in Rivas and was then sent to the north to continue imparting justice. She stayed in her position without mentioning a word about it.
Orteguismo targets operational circle
Yader Morazán, former Judicial Branch official, said via telephone that Pérez's operative circle is also being persecuted and investigated by Orteguismo, including her closest judges.
Morazán said that the process against Pérez is arbitrary, because she continues to be a magistrate as long as her resignation is not accepted by the Assembly, and therefore enjoys immunity.
According to the specialist, this "resignation" can be explained as a case of corrupt officials going beyond what is authorized by El Carmen (the presidential residence). The way in which Perez leaves office is remarkable and takes place in a repressive context, in which violence is imposed to any type of partisan agreement in the institution. "The next step after Perez's departure is the removal of his circle of trust", he reiterated.
Human rights defender Pablo Cuevas added that the case of the magistrate demonstrates that there is no separation of powers in Nicaragua and that in the CSJ what the presidential couple decides is done.
"That (the dismissal) was due to acts of corruption is a fantasy, because corruption is a standard of the current government", added Cuevas, for whom it is evident that "the magistrate was resigned".
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.