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Nicaragua moves 3 opponents from jail to house arrest

February 19, 2022 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaraguan authorities have ordered home detention for three opposition figures suffering from health problems, one week after another died following months of incarceration.

Former Nicaraguan Foreign Affairs Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, 77, former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister José Pallais, 68, and former ambassador to the United States Arturo Cruz Sequeira, 68, were ordered to home confinement, the government said late Friday in a statement.

All three have been accused of conspiring to destabilize the country, a charge applied to dozens of opposition figures rounded up by President Daniel Ortega before last year’s national elections.

Cruz was one of seven potential presidential contenders jailed. Ortega went on to easily win re-lection to a fourth consecutive term in November.

The government said the change was done in consideration of their health and for humanitarian reasons.

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A number of opposition figures have been convicted and sentences in rapid trials held out of public view this month.

Hugo Torres, a former Sandinista guerrilla leader who once led a raid that helped free then rebel Ortega from prison, died one week ago while awaiting trial. He was 73 years old.

The government was internationally condemned for Torres’ death. On Friday, the Organization of American States called for the immediate release of all political prisoners.

Several other opposition figures over the age of 65 remain jailed.

Ortega has maintained that those arrested conspired for the attempted overthrow of his government. Massive street protests broke out in April 2018 that Ortega has said were supported by foreign interests. His government has shuttered a number of nongovernmental organizations and attempted to clamp down on any sources of foreign funding.