The Supreme Court announced it has opened an investigation of the two appellatejudges who overturned the murder sentence of U.S. citizen Eric Volz, who was freed from state custody Dec. 21 and left the country on a private flight heading to an undisclosed location.
Granada appellate judges Roberto Rodríguez and Alejandro Estrada were on a three-judge panel that last month overturned Volz’s 30-year prison sentence for the murder of his Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend, Doris Ivania Jimenez, who was found hogtied, raped and strangled in the back of her clothing boutique in San Juan del Sur on Nov. 21, 2006.
The decision to overturn Volz’s conviction, while at the same time upholding the conviction of Nicaraguan Julio Martin Chamorro, who was found guilty along with Volz last February, has outraged much of Nicaragua, and drawn the ire of President Daniel Ortega, the Supreme Court and even the Archbishop of Managua, among others (NT, Dec. 21).
Upon Volz’s release Dec. 21, his family released a statement saying he will now be kept in hiding “due to reports of threats against him.”
Family spokeswoman Melissa Campbell added, “We have reason to believe that he is being followed and are taking every precaution to assure his safety.”
Leonel Teller, spokesman of the Liberation Constitutional Party (PLC), alleged that Volz’s release – just hours before the government went on vacation for the Christmas holidays – was part of a political negotiation.
The Volz family spokeswoman did not respond by press time to The Nica Times’ requests for comment on that allegation.
Mercedes Alvarado, mother of the murder victim, has also alleged that political wranglings were at play, and has accused the Ortega government of employing antiimperialist rhetoric in public but buckling to U.S. pressures in the end.
Alvarado says that the two judges who freed Volz should now be put in jail to serve out his 30 year sentence. Judge Rodríguez, the only of the two to speak out on the issue, insists he did the right thing by freeing Volz (see letters page 7).
Volz, a former real estate agent and publisher of a Nicaraguan fashion magazine, is now presumably back in the United States, although he has not made any public appearances and his family has not released any statements since his release.