Seven Ortega opponents found guilty of political crimes in Nicaragua

By Ismael Lopez

MANAGUA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A Nicaraguan judge on Wednesday found seven opponents of President Daniel Ortega's government guilty of undermining national integrity, in what human rights organizations have called a "political trial."

Three former presidential candidates, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Arturo Cruz and Felix Maradiaga, were among the seven convicted. They were arrested with other government adversaries before last November's elections in which Ortega, uncontested, won a fourth term in office.

The other opponents convicted were Jose Adan Aguerri, the former president of the country's main business chamber, former deputy foreign minister Jose Pallais and opposition activists Violeta Granera and Tamara Dávila.

The judge passed down prison sentences ranging from eight to 13 years.

"The regime convicted them of crimes they have not committed," the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said in a statement on social media.

At least 47 government opponents were jailed, accused of treason, money laundering and other crimes. Since trials resumed this month, 26 people have so far been convicted.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols said earlier this month that Nicaragua is on the road to expulsion from the Organization of American States (OAS).

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Kim Coghill)


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