MANAGUA – One of Nicaragua’s top human-rights leaders will go on trial next week to face charges he claims were trumped up against him as part of the Sandinista government’s political witch hunt to eliminate its opposition.
Marcos Carmona, director of Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), will go before a judge Aug. 5 to face charges that he assaulted two police officers in February 2007 – a claim he vigorously denies.
Police showed up at Carmona’s Managua home the morning of July 8 and attempted to arrest him for assaulting two police officers last year. However, Carmona says, the police refused to show him the warrant or search order, so the human-rights lawyer refused to cooperate and instead called his lawyer..
“This situation is political, not legal,” Carmona told The Nica Times, stressing that he’s never physically or verbally assaulted any police officers.
Carmona then went on his own to the police station and to the courthouse to find out what was going on, but says in both cases the authorities refused to meet with him or show him the file against him.
Carmona, who was instrumental in presenting the 2006 indigenous case accusing President Daniel Ortega of crimes against humanity, has maintained a very critical stance against the Sandinista government and acknowledges that he has lots of political enemies. Most recently, Carmona has called the newly elected Supreme Court magistrates incompetent political cronies, and has criticized the Supreme Electoral Council’s decision to eliminate minority parties from the upcoming municipal elections.
Carmona is not the only opposition voice suddenly facing possible arrest orders.
The state prosecutor’s office on July 7 filed a criminal accusation against 39 former government officials and bankers – including opposition leader Eduardo Montealgre and newspaper publisher Jaime Chamorro, of the leading opposition daily La Prensa – for their alleged role in a banking scandal known as the “Cenis” case. The state prosecutor is requesting the judge put the 39 accused under a preventive house arrest.
Carmona, meanwhile, says the recent attempts to jail opposition leaders are akin to the Sandinista tactics in the 1980s.
“Unfortunately, the institutionality of the country is lost,” Carmona says. “Now they don’t have to make people disappear. Now they can do it ‘legally’ by inventing anything they want.”