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UNAMOS demands independent investigation on the “crime” against political prisoner Hugo Torres

Luis Carrion demands the entry of IACHR, OHCHR and ICRC. Hugo Torres died on Friday night, 15 hours before the official announcement.

Octavio Enríquez

15 de febrero 2022


Luis Carrion, leader of the opposition Democratic Renovation Union (UNAMOS), described the death of political prisoner Hugo Torres as “a crime”, after having been isolated in the El Chipote prison for eight months, and demanded an independent investigation to clarify the tragedy and save other political prisoners whose lives are in danger in the prison.

Carrion demanded the entry to the country of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross to conduct an independent inquiry, since the Police, the Public Ministry, and the Government “have no credibility.”

“This crime was committed by the regime, because as long as the circumstances of Hugo’s death are not clarified, and the fact that he had been under the custody of the government, means that the government has responsibility for his death,” Carrion said in an interview with the Esta Semana television program that aired Sunday.

Torres, 73, vice president of UNAMOS, was a hero of the struggle against the Somoza dynasty who became a political prisoner of the Ortega regime on June 13 of last year. He was charged for allegedly violating the catch-all law “for the defense of the rights of the people to independence, sovereignty and self-determination for peace,” approved by the dictatorship in December 2020 as a repressive instrument used against opponents in an election year.

He is the second political prisoner to die, after Eddy Montes was killed “in cold blood” by a prison guard in 2019, in another case that caused national and international rejection. Torres was on the list of political prisoners that the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ordered to be released last November 4, however, the Nicaraguan Government ignored the resolution.

The death was finally officially admitted on Saturday afternoon by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, through a three-paragraph statement in which it affirms that the death occurred due to a deterioration of his health, which caused him to be transferred to a hospital where he was allowed to be accompanied by his children.

Carrion pointed out that the State’s pronunciation left several doubts. “We do not have any information about the cause, his diagnosis, the situation that brought him to the hospital. We expected the Government, because it's responsible, to inform us of the circumstances of his death, the causes, where he died, when not even that is clearly stated in the statement of the Public Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.

Government informed about the death 15 hours later

According to the information known by UNAMOS, thanks to direct sources in El Chipote prison and in the Police, the retired general began to present health problems at the beginning of December of last year, then it worsened and finally one day he became unconscious. The alarm of the other inmates caused the authorities to arrive at the cell and decide to transfer him to the hospital.

For more than two months Torres’ whereabouts were unknown and independent organizations such as the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) demanded, without success, reports on the prisoner’s health, until this Saturday, February 12, the tragic outcome was revealed.

Carrion disclosed that Hugo Torres died at ten o’clock at night on Friday, February 11, 2022. The statement of the Public Ministry was sent until 1:33 p.m. on Saturday from the email of the spokesperson and Vice President Rosario Murillo, which means that the regime kept his death secret for more than 15 hours.

“The circumstance in which the death of Hugo Torres took place isn’t known for certain, and the government cannot be exonerated of responsibility, as long as there is no independent investigation to establish the causes and about the whole process that led to that point,” insisted Carrion.

The children of the deceased, Hugo Marcel, María Alejandra and Lucia Aracelly announced that “by the expressed will of their father” no funeral honors or public ceremonies would be held. Carrion considered that the death was a blow for his family, but also for the leadership of UNAMOS in whose organization Torres was vice-president. Likewise, he appraised the loss as a tragedy for “the fighters for democracy who are losing a firm and courageous voice that fearlessly and systematically denounced the abuses and crimes of the dictatorship.”

“Life of political prisoners at risk”

There are currently at least 170 political prisoners in Nicaragua, 46 of whom were arrested in the months leading up to last November’s vote, when Ortega re-elected himself in a vote without democratic guarantees, eliminating political competition by ordering the arrest of the main political, business, and social leaders.


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Luis Carrion said the death of Hugo Torres in prison highlights the health condition of all political prisoners and shows that the Ortega dictatorship does not ensure medical care nor the necessary conditions for political prisoners to avoid aggravating their conditions.

For several months, the relatives of the prisoners of conscience have been demanding their immediate release, in addition to denouncing the solitary confinement and torture they are subjected to by the Police, the poor nutrition and the weight loss suffered by most of them as a result of the precarious conditions of confinement.

Among the political prisoners there are 11 who are elderly and whose situation is more vulnerable: Edgar Parrales, Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Jose Pallais, Violeta Granera, Mauricio Diaz, Dora María Tellez, Victor Hugo Tinoco, Evelyn Pinto and Nidia Barboza.

“The lives of the political prisoners are at risk; therefore, they must be freed, they have not committed any crime,” argued the leader of UNAMOS who also referred to the processes executed by 15 judicial officials, among judges and prosecutors, who comply with the orders to ensure the sentencing of political prisoners.

“Judicial executions”

Carrion described the legal processes as “judicial executions” because they do not have even the shadow of resemblance to a real trial. The right to defense of the convicts has been violated, without even allowing them a minimum of communication with their lawyers.

“This is a farce, and it will continue because this regime has no sense of humanity, no respect for justice and no respect for the law. It is part of the process of torture and revenge that they have established against these political prisoners,” he regretted.

The former member of the FSLN National Directorate, described as a “cruel irony” that Torres has died as a political prisoner of Daniel Ortega, when a heroic operation of a guerrilla commando in which Torres participated in 1974 freed the current ruler, after the raid to the house of former Minister Jose María Castillo, and the subsequent negotiation with dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Carrión said that one of the basic feelings of human beings is gratitude, which the current ruler did not consider when he ordered the imprisonment of Hugo Torres.

The UNAMOS leader added that Ortega shows no signs of taking a step to address the deep political, humanitarian and social crisis in which Nicaragua is immersed. Since 2018, when thousands of Nicaraguans demanded the dictator’s resignation in the streets and were repressed, at least 355 people died in the context of the protests, according to the IACHR. More than 100,000 people went into exile, however, Ortega “is clinging to power and trying to inherit it to his family,” expressed Carrion, while stressing that the only possible opportunity for the country is democracy.

So far, the Nicaraguan Army has not commented on the death of retired general Hugo Torres as a political prisoner, a silence that for Luis Carrion “has no explanation.”

In 2018, retired general Hugo Torres reproached the military command for not disarming the paramilitary forces of the regime, responsible for the human rights violations perpetrated against the citizenry on a massive scale over the last four years.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times



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Octavio Enríquez

Octavio Enríquez

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado. Comenzó su carrera en el año 2000, cuando todavía era estudiante. Por sus destacadas investigaciones periodísticas ha ganado el Premio Ortega y Gasset, el Premio Internacional de Periodismo Rey de España, el Premio a la Excelencia de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, y el Premio Latinoamericano de Periodismo de Investigación del Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).