Four priests, two seminarians and a cameraman from the Diocese of Matagalpa, in northern Nicaragua, will be tried for the crimes of conspiracy to undermine national integrity and spread false news to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society, reported this Tuesday the Judiciary.
The head of the Fifth Criminal District Court of Managua, Nalia Nadezha Úbeda Obando, in charge of the case, summoned the parties to hold the initial hearing for next Friday from 10:00 local time (16 :00 GMT), according to the case disclosed in the Internet system of the Judiciary.
The court will seat on the bench of the accused the priests Ramiro Reynaldo Tijerino Chávez, rector of the Juan Pablo II University and in charge of the San Juan Bautista parish; José Luis Díaz Cruz and Sadiel Antonio Eugarrios Cano, first and second vicar of the Matagalpa Cathedral of San Pedro, respectively; and Raúl Antonio Vega González.RELATED
Also to the seminarians Darvin Esteylin Leiva Mendoza and Melkin Antonio Centeno Sequeira; and cameraman Sergio José Cárdenas Flores.
The accusation against the religious was presented by the assistant prosecutor Manuel de Jesús Rugama Peña on September 21 and until now the details are known.
That group of religious and lay people, together with Bishop Rolando Álvarez, were abducted early Friday, August 19, by police officers from the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa, after having been confined for 15 days, and since then they have been imprisoned.
Bishop Rolando Álvarez was not charged
Álvarez, 55 years old and bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, apostolic administrator of the diocese of Estelí, both in the north of Nicaragua, and who has since been under “home protection” in Managua, according to the National Police, has not been formally charged.
The National Police, led by Francisco Díaz, President Daniel Ortega’s brother-in-law, accuses the chief and his collaborators of trying to “organize violent groups,” supposedly “with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities.”
According to the indictment, the religious used social networks, radio broadcasters, and the pulpit in the churches, between last August 4 and 6, to commit the alleged crimes, without specifying.
The judge, who accepted the accusatory libel, reported that the National Police continues to carry out investigations “aimed at discovering all illicit activities, as well as all possible members of a related criminal organization” and that they are “still awaiting the completion of investigative acts, such as social media reporting”.
Ortega calls the Church “tyranny”
Last week, President Ortega attacked the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis, accusing it of not practicing democracy, of being a “dictatorship” and a “perfect tyranny” and of having used “its bishops in Nicaragua to give a coup d’état” against his government in the framework of the demonstrations that broke out in April 2018 over controversial social security reforms.
The arrest of Álvarez and seven other priests, including the four defendants, is the most recent chapter in a particularly convulsive last year for the Catholic Church of Nicaragua with the Government of Ortega, who has branded as “coup plotters” and “terrorists” the hierarchs.
This year, the Sandinista government expelled from the country the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and 18 nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The Executive also closed nine Catholic radio stations and removed three Catholic channels from subscription television programming.
The Police also entered by force and raided a parish, preventing parishioners from receiving the Eucharist inside the temple and besieging other priests in their churches, prohibiting processions with images of saints, among others.
Relations between the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church have been marked by friction and mistrust in the last 43 years.
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