Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa and former ambassador Mauricio Diaz – who’ve been in jail for over four weeks – were formally accused of alleged “conspiracy to undermine the national integrity”, according to information released by the Interior Ministry.
The Public Prosecutor’s office announced that preliminary hearings against the accused were held on Friday, September 3, and that the court admitted the accusations against both parties. In addition, they reported that the two defendants were remanded to custody while awaiting trial.
The Interior Ministry didn’t release the name of the judge who ruled the charges admissible, nor the site of the secret hearing. They emphasized, however, that “the Constitutional rights of the accused, investigated and interviewed persons have been respected at all times,” and they’ve “assured the quality and objectivity of the investigation, as well as the accusations, and will continue contributing to maintaining security and respect for the norms of peaceful coexistence.”
Aguirre and Diaz have been in jail since last July and August respectively, without being allowed access to their family members or their attorneys. According to the government, they were previously in jail while awaiting the investigation of the cases against them and will now remain in jail while awaiting trial.
Family members of both former diplomats have issued urgent calls for their freedom, declaring that the imprisonment of their relatives is “political”. Georgia Aguirre, the former foreign minister’s daughter, has publicly demanded her father’s freedom, as well as the liberation of the other political prisoners. She affirmed in an interview with Confidencial: “The government has put them in jail for fear of losing an election.”
Francisco Aguirre, 76, was foreign minister and the Nicaraguan ambassador to the US during the administration of ex-president Arnoldo Aleman (1997 – 2002) and a deputy for the opposition bench from 2002 – 2007, under the administration of the late former president Enrique Bolaños.
Diaz, 71, was on the national board of the Citizen’s for Liberty party, which was formally annulled by the Supreme Electoral Council on August 6. Diaz has a broad career in diplomatic service: he was Nicaragua’s ambassador to Costa Rica from 1999 – 2004, and the country’s OAS representative from 1999 – 2000.
Thirty-five formally accused in 11 days
Both diplomats were abducted by Nicaragua’s National Police amid a wave of arrests that have imprisoned 35 opposition leaders, political activists, human rights advocates, and journalists.
The cases of Aguirre and Diaz completed the accusation process against all 35, a process of supposed preliminary hearings held over an 11-day period. No attorneys or family members witnessed these hearings and no information is available about them. At these secret events, the political prisoners have been either charged either with alleged conspiracy to undermine the national integrity or with money laundering.
Among the accused are: Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Miguel Mora and Medardo Mairena. Before being jailed during June and July, all six had announced their intention to compete for the presidential nomination and the right to face Daniel Ortega in the November 7th general elections.
Daniel Ortega, who will soon turn 76, is seeing his fourth consecutive term in office. The former Sandinista guerrilla returned to power in 2007, after coordinating the Government Junta from 1979 -1984 and presiding over the country as president from 1985 – 1990. This would be the second time he would serve with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his vice president.