Nicaraguan priest charged with conspiracy and spreading false news

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Priest Enrique Martinez Gamboa

The prosecution filed charges against Enrique Martinez a day after his violent arrest. As in other cases, both the judge and the prosecutor in the case are linked to Daniel Ortega’s FSLN.

By Octavio Enriquez (Confidential)

HAVANA TIMES — The Ortega regime continued its escalation of attacks on the Catholic Church, this time targeting 64-year-old Father Enrique Martinez Gamboa. The priest is accused of conspiracy and spreading false news.

The accusatory three-page document was filed by the prosecution on the morning of October 14, less than a day after the priest was violently arrested at his home in Managua.

Martinez is the eleventh priest imprisoned during Ortega’s legal rampage against the Catholic Church. Others include Archbishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa, who has been under incommunicado house arrest at his family’s residence in Managua since August 19.

Enrique Martinez maintained a strong voice of denunciation during the 2018 citizen protests, denouncing human rights abuses by the government. On October 17, a relative of the priest filed a habeas corpus petition before Judge Octavio Rothschuh, opposing the actions of Commissioner Luis Alberto Perez, head of Managua’s main police and prison complex known as El Chipote. The call is supposed to be “in process”.

The day Father Martinez was taken prisoner by the police, officers arrived at his house and broke down the door. They forced the priest out of the room where he was, with blows and blows, and forced him into a van. All the while, he shouted at them, “Murderous police! and “Long live Christ the King!” sources close to Confidential claimed that they escorted the Father “in their underwear”.

Political Prisoner Railroad Prosecutor and Judge

According to the file, the prosecutor in charge is Heydi Estela Ramirez. The judge is Karen Chavarria, who presides over the Criminal Court of the Ninth District of Managua. The two judicial officials have a habit of subordinating their judicial decisions to the will of the ruling party.

Prosecutor Heydi Ramirez has collaborated in the persecution of the independent press in cases like the recent bogus trials of Nicaraguan newspaper workers La Prensa. However, she is also known to have threatened a number of journalists during interrogation sessions in June 2021, as part of the fabrication of a money laundering case against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

In 2021, Judge Karen Chavarria was the one who ordered the arrest of presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, former president of the Violeta Barrios Foundation. The judge was sanctioned by the US government last March when her name was added to the “Engel List”, a registry of prominent corrupt and anti-democratic figures.

At that time, Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, signed a statement accusing the judge of “abusing her authority and subverting judicial proceedings, in order to act against political opponents of the Ortega regime. -Murillo and to inhibit opposition candidates from participating in the November 2021 elections.”

Sources said Confidential that Father Martinez suffers from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, problems in a kidney and blood circulation problems.

In the meantime, an oral public hearing is scheduled for December 1st in the case of three priests, a deacon, two seminary students and a cameraman, all of whom remained with Bishop Rolando Alvarez when police besieged the Matagalpa Curia from August 3-18. The bishop and those accompanying him were forcibly taken to Managua on August 19. Monsignor Alvarez was placed under house arrest at that time, but the other seven were imprisoned.

In addition to these events, in 2019 the regime forced the assistant bishop of Managua, Msgr. Silvio Baez, into exile; they expelled the apostolic nuncio last March; and they banned others, including the Missionaries of Charity in July. They also shut down seven Catholic radio stations in the dioceses of Matagalpa.

In 2018, amid the human rights crisis sparked by the Ortega crackdown, many priests spoke out against abuses and helped victims in their parishes. The dictatorship then accused them of being “putschists”. Ortega even claimed last September that religious figures asked protesters to “put lead [bullets] In him”.

“They came out of churches armed to launch attacks on police stations. And priests, bishops calling people to lead me, hoping to kill me. Imagine what kind of bishops and priests, they said that serenely. Hey, it’s just a bunch of murderers, covered up by the Catholic Church,” Ortega said in a Sept. 29 speech.

His hate speech was uttered at an act commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the police, when he declared that the Catholic Church was “the dictatorship of the prefect”.

Later, during the celebration of the fourth year of the declaration of a de facto police state in Nicaragua – a declaration truncating the right to assemble and demonstrate – he again attacked the Catholic Church, asking himself to aloud who chose “the priests, the bishops and the pope.

Since 2018, the level of repression to keep the regime in power has steadily increased. When the international community demanded that they answer for crimes committed by the state, they denounced, for example, “interventionism”.

Read more about Nicaragua here on Havana Times

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