Nicaragua: Bishop sentenced to 26 years in prison and stripped of citizenship
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A Nicaraguan court sentenced Catholic Bishop Rolando Alvarez to 26 years in prison on Friday, the day after cleric and critic of President Daniel Ortega refused to be deported to the United States.
Alvarez, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, was convicted of high treason, undermining national integrity and spreading false information.
During Friday's court hearing, it was also announced that he would be fined and stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.
Initially scheduled for late March, the bishop's sentencing was expedited without explanation.
“The Nicaraguan dictatorship's hatred of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez is irrational and out of control,” — tweeted after the verdict by Senior Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio Baes, exiled to Miami.
Appreciating “moral excellence” Alvarez, Baez predicts that Alvarez will eventually be released.
Alvarez was on a list of more than 200 unexpectedly released political prisoners announced by the Ortega government on Thursday, but he refused to board a plane bound for Washington airport , DC.
In a televised address later Thursday, Ortega derided the released prisoners as criminal mercenaries of foreign powers who sought to undermine national sovereignty, and said that Alvarez had been returned to prison.
Last August, Ortega police arrested Alvarez after forcing him to leave the church grounds, where he and four other priests and two seminarians from his diocese barricaded themselves. .
All seven of the men arrested along with Alvarez were sentenced to 10 years in prison this month on charges of treason and spreading false news. But they all boarded a flight to Washington on Thursday.
Ortega has accused Catholic leaders of trying to overthrow him when some of them acted as middlemen with protest groups after protests erupted in 2018 that left about 300 people dead.
C since then, the government of the former Cold War Marxist insurgency expelled Catholic nuns and missionaries and shut down Catholic radio and TV stations.
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