Nicaragua: Dictatorship Sentences Bishop Rolando Álvarez To 26 Years In Prison
By Walter Sanchez Silva
The dictatorship of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua sentenced on Friday, Feb. 10, the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez Lagos, to 26 years and four months in prison, charging him with being a “traitor to the homeland.”
The sentence against Álvarez comes just one day after the dictatorship deported 222 political prisoners to the United States.
Álvarez refused to get on the plane with the deportees, Ortega himself said yesterday afternoon in a speech.
The sentence read this afternoon by Judge Héctor Ernesto Ochoa Andino, president of Criminal Chamber 1 of the Managua Court of Appeals, states: “The defendant Rolando José Álvarez Lagos is held to be a traitor to the country.”
“Let it be declared that Rolando José Álvarez Lagos is guilty for being the author of the crimes of undermining national security and sovereignty, spreading fake news news through information technology, obstructing an official in the performance of his duties, aggravated disobedience or contempt of authority, all committed concurrently and to the detriment of society and the State of the Republic of Nicaragua,” the sentence states.
Detailing each of the charges and their respective penalties, the text adds: “The defendant Rolando José Álvarez Lagos is sentenced to 15 years in prison and perpetual disqualification from exercising public office on behalf of or at the service of the State of Nicaragua.”
“The loss of the convicted person’s citizen rights is declared, which will be perpetual, all of this for being the author of the crime of undermining national security and sovereignty,” the ruling continues.
The sentence also decrees “the loss of Nicaraguan nationality to the sanctioned José Álvarez Lagos, in strict adherence to Law 1145.”
The aforementioned Law 1145, as well as a constitutional reform that allows the loss of nationality of those sentenced for “treason,” was passed by the National Assembly of Nicaragua Feb. 9.
Today’s ruling reads: “The defendant Rolando José Álvarez Lagos is sentenced to five years in prison and an 800-day monetary fine (based on a percentage of his daily salary) for being the author of propagating fake news through information and communication technologies.”
“The penalty in days-of-fine is equivalent to the amount of 56,461 córdobas and 15 centavos (about $1,550).”
Lastly, the judgment sentences the “defendant Rolando José Álvarez Lagos to five years and four months in prison for being the author of aggravated obstruction of the performance of duty of an official to the detriment of the State and the Republic of Nicaragua” and also “one year in prison for being the author of the crime of contempt of authority.”
“The prison sentences will be served successively, so the convicted Rolando José Álvarez Lagos must serve 26 years and four months in prison,” the sentence reads.
According to the sentence, Álvarez must be imprisoned until April 13, 2049.
The bishop refused to board the plane yesterday afternoon along with 222 other deportees, including four priests, who were flown to the U.S. in an agreement with the U.S. State Department. Álvarez decided to stay to accompany the Catholics who are suffering the repression of the dictatorship in Nicaragua.
In a statement issued Friday following the deportation of the 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners, Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the House Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives, said: “We must continue to work to combat the brutal Ortega regime and free the remaining prisoners — including courageous Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who refuses to abandon his flock.”
“He is truly a Christ-like figure with a servant’s heart, and we continue to urge Pope Francis to speak unequivocally on his behalf and seek his release,” the congressman said.