Director of Nicaragua’s La Prensa newspaper sentenced to 9 years in prison

Managua, Mar 31 (EFE).- The director of Nicaragua’s La Prensa newspaper, Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, considered a “political prisoner” of President Daniel Ortega’s government by humanitarian agencies, was sentenced on Thursday to nine years in prison and ordered to pay a fine, the paper reported.

Judge Nadia Camila Tardencilla Rodríguez, head of the Second Court of the Criminal District of Managua, also barred Holmann Chamorro from exercising his profession or office for the duration of the sentence.

Last week, Judge Tardencilla Rodríguez found the publisher guilty of laundering money, property or assets.

La Prensa, which has only been published online since a day prior to the arrest of its director, said that the fine imposed by the judge is equivalent to three times the money that Holmann Chamorro allegedly laundered, although it did not specify the amount.

He will serve his sentence until Sep. 9, 2030.

The court also ordered that “the property occupied” on Aug. 13, 2021, the day on which the police seized the newspaper’s premises and commercial printing plant, be kept in custody.

According to the paper, during the reading of the sentence, Holmann Chamorro, who has been in jail for 229 days, thanked “everyone for their prayers” and asked them to keep praying. He said he was “strong” and will remain so.

During the trial, which concluded last week, he pleaded not guilty.

Holmann Chamorro is part of a group of more than 40 Nicaraguans, including opposition leaders, critics of Ortega, and independent professionals, who were imprisoned before November’s elections.

Ortega went on to win a fifth term as president and his fourth consecutive and second with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with seven of the other presidential candidates in prison.

The publisher became the fourth member of the Chamorro family to be convicted by the Nicaraguan legal system after his siblings, Cristiana and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, children of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), and also directors of La Prensa, as well as Juan Sebastián Chamorro García.

Both Cristiana and Juan Sebastián were arrested after expressing interest in becoming a presidential candidate for the opposition.

Holmann Chamorro, 55, has lost 24 pounds, has a lump in the abdomen, pain in the groin, fungus in his hands and feet, heart problems, blood pressure, possible prostate problems, and a spot in his right eye, apparently due to unhealthy conditions and lack of ventilation and light in his cell, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and La Prensa.

These conditions, according to CENIDH, are similar to those of others who were arrested in the context of the elections, including former diplomats, ex-Sandinista guerrillas, opposition leaders, youth leaders, farmers, journalists and businessmen. EFE


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