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Jailed Nicaraguan opposition leader Chamorro, brother found guilty

Presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro arrives at the Nicaragua Attorney General's office in Managua
FILE PHOTO: Presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro, who is attempting to challenge longtime President Daniel Ortega in November’s national election, arrives March 21, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Herrera

March 12, 2022

By Ishmael Lopez

MANAGUA (Reuters) – A former Nicaraguan presidential hopeful and her brother were found guilty of multiple financial crimes late Friday, relatives of the two told Reuters.

Cristiana Chamorro, who topped current President Daniel Ortega in the polls when she was arrested in June 2021, and her brother, former lawmaker Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, were outspoken critics of the Ortega administration until their arrest in the United States and internationally Human rights groups have denounced him as politically motivated.

The two are the children of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who beat Ortega in the 1990 election to end his first term. He returned to office in 2007 and was re-elected for the fourth consecutive year last year after many of his opponents were jailed.

Chamorro was found guilty of money laundering through a free speech organization she runs, which was disbanded early last year after legislation restricting charitable activities was passed in the country. Prosecutors said Chamorro received money from abroad through the organization “to destabilize the government”.

She and her brother were also convicted of mismanagement and embezzlement and withholding of funds. Prosecutors are asking for a 13-year prison sentence for Chamorro, which she can serve under house arrest. Three former employees of the foundation were also convicted. Her brother faces up to seven years in prison.

Lawyers for Chamorro and her brother had denied the allegations.

“My siblings, Pedro Joaquin and Cristiana Chamorro, maintained their innocence in the few minutes they had to speak,” their brother Carlos Chamorro said in a tweet following the sentencing.

Chamorro was arrested in the same week as seven other potential political rivals. A total of 46 opponents of leftist Ortega, a former guerrilla commander, were jailed in last year’s elections.

Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Ortega to restore a “credible, fair and transparent electoral process” ahead of local elections in the Central American country later this year.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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Bobby Allyn

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