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Nicaraguan gov't releases opposition members from prison

NICARAGUA PROTESTS | 11 de junio de 2019

Managua, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- The Nicaraguan government freed from prison this Tuesday a group the opposition called political prisoners under the controversial Amnesty Law, passed last weekend by the Sandinista majority in the National Assembly, a group that included journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Rineda.

Among those released were also farm labor leaders Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena and Orlando Icabalceta, whom a judge aligned with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had sentenced to 216, 210 and 159 years in prison, respectively.

Also pardoned were student leaders Edwin Carcache, Amaya Eva Coppens, Nairobi Olivas and Kevin Espinoza, business leader Irlanda Jerez and opposition leader Cristhian Fajardo. Ricardo Baltodano, the brother of the former Sandinista guerrilla commander, was also set free, as was current opposition member Monica Baltodano, among others.

The pardons were enacted by the National Penitentiary System, whose guards handed over the "political prisoners" to their families at their homes under observation by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

For now, the Interior Ministry has not specified the number of anti-government protesters released.

On Monday, based on the Amnesty Law, the Interior Ministry ordered the liberation of 50 people who had been arrested "for crimes against the common security and public peace."

The National Assembly passed last Saturday as an urgent matter the law that provides "extensive amnesty for all those who took part in the events that occurred on national territory from April 18, 2018, to the present day."

According to the opposition, what the government is trying to do with this amnesty is to free "its people" from all legal accusations, among whom were mentioned the National Police and armed civilians who by the force of arms cleared away the roadblocks installed by the opposition between May and July last year to put pressure on the government.

According to the report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), an affiliate of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the principal cause of the violence that left hundreds dead was the Ortega government, which in mid-2019 used police and militia groups bearing weapons of war to attack civilians.

The crisis in Nicaragua has left at least 325 dead, according to the IACHR, though local organizations raise the number to 594.The government admits to 199.

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