The Nicaraguan dictatorship, led by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, has sentenced seven members of the Church to 10 years in prison.
The individuals, who include three priests, a deacon, two seminarians, and a layman from the Diocese of Matagalpa, were charged with “conspiracy to undermine national security and sovereignty” and “spreading fake news.”
On February 6th, Judge Nadia Tardencilla of the Second Criminal Trial District issued the sentence, which includes five years for each of the charges and an additional 800 days monetary fine based on the convicted person’s daily salary.
Father Ramiro Reynaldo Tijerino Chávez, the rector of the John Paul II University, Father Sadiel Antonio Eugarrios Cano, the former vicar of the Matagalpa cathedral, and Father José Luis Díaz Cruz, the current vicar of the Matagalpa cathedral, are among those sentenced. The other individuals include Deacon Raúl Antonio Vega González, seminarians Darvin Esteylin Leiva Mendoza and Melkin Antonio Centeno Sequeira, and photographer Sergio José Cárdenas Flores.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) has condemned the sentence, calling it “a new legal aberration” that also “disqualified them for life from holding public office and popular election.” The organization has demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners, including these seven men.
Another priest, Father Oscar Benavidez, was found guilty of the same charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison on February 4th. The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, who has been under house arrest since August 19th, 2022, is also set to stand trial on charges of conspiracy. However, no sentence has been issued yet.
Pray for an end to religious persecution in Nicaragua! 🙏
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