San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Sandinistas Complete Takeover of Supreme Court in Nicaragua

MANAGUA – Sandinista judges and ex-judges attempted to “legalize” their de facto takeover of Nicaragua’s highest tribunal Wednesday by electing Sandinista judge Alba Luz Ramos as the new president of the Supreme Court.

The vote, which was approved by a group of eight Sandinista judges – including two ex-magistrates who keep showing up for work – was boycotted by opposition judges, who insist the Supreme Court has been illegally constituted since last April.

The Sandinistas argue that they represent the majority of seats on the Supreme Court and thus have enough votes to elect a new directorate, even if the opposition continues to boycott the sessions. Ramos, who has been acting as the de facto head of the court since April, was ratified by the Sandinistas to continue the job, only now with her title made official.

Sandinista judge Alba Luz Ramos

Sandinista judge Alba Luz Ramos is named president of Nicaragua’s Supreme Court by her Sandinista collegues. Analyst claim her appointment is illegal. Tim Rogers / Nica Times

The Sandinistas also elected a new Supreme Court vice president and shuffled several other judges in and out of posts on lower courts.

Legal analysts argue that Nicaragua’s Supreme Court and everything it does is illegal. Since the two Sandinista ex-judges refused to hand in their gavel last April when their judgeships expired, the Supreme Court has dissolved into a self-appointed Sandinista kangaroo court that’s operating completely above the law, analysts argue (NT, April 23).

“Nicaragua has lost all its institutional legitimacy and rule of law,” said constitutional analyst Gabriel Alvarez. “This has become a de facto state where government decisions are made by force.”

“A bad tree can’t produce good fruit and an illegal court can’t pass legal resolutions,” judicial analyst Sergio García told The Nica Times Wednesday.

García, who recently tore up his license to practice law in protest of what he calls a state of complete lawlessness in Nicaragua, said the Supreme Court and the Constitution have been so abused that there is “no legal way out of the problem anymore.”

“Nicaragua is in a complete de facto state,” he said. “There is no rule of law or democracy here anymore and we are only one step away from a coup or civil war.”

Read this Friday’s Nica Times for more on Nicaragua’s de facto state and Ortega’s fear of a coup.

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