October 3, 2022

Nicaragua’s main opposition figure and would-be presidential challenger to Daniel Ortega has been found guilty of financial crimes, a family member said Friday.

Cristiana Chamorro, who has been detained since June, was found guilty of money laundering and mismanagement in a closed-door trial, her niece Olama Hurtado told AFP.

Chamorro’s brother Pedro Joaquin Chamorro and three former employees of her free speech foundation were also convicted.

“They found everyone guilty,” Hurtado said, adding that sentencing is scheduled for March 21.

Chamorro, 68, the daughter of former Nicaraguan president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was placed under house arrest in June, preventing her from challenging Ortega in the November election, in which she was regarded as the favorite.

Chamorro was accused by the state of laundering money, property and assets through her media foundation as well as promoting “ideological falsehood” and destabilizing the government.

In this file photo taken in May 2021, Cristiana Chamorro is pictured before giving a press conference in Managua Photo: AFP / INTI OCON

The sentence came after a seven-day trial held in a court inside El Chipote prison and was closed to the public.

Chamorro has maintained her innocence.

“They want to stain my name, but they will not succeed,” she told the court at the end of the trial, according to 100% News, an online media outlet critical of the government. “They will never succeed in staining the name of my father or my mother, because I am innocent.”

Chamorro, a journalist not aligned with any political party, is one of seven former presidential candidates and nearly 40 opposition figures arrested last year in the run-up to the November 7 election.

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Ortega won a fourth consecutive term in the vote, which was widely condemned as rigged.