Man handed 216 year prison sentence for leading protests in Nicaragua
A man who helped to lead protests against the Nicaraguan president has been sentenced to more than 200 years in prison.
Medardo Mairena is the leader of a movement that is opposed to a stalled Chinese-backed project to build a waterway connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans which would rival the Panama Canal.
According to MSN He had helped to organise mass protests against President Daniel Ortega last year in which more than 320 people died after government supporters and police opened fire on crowds.
Street rallies have since tapered off, and the government has clamped down on opposition media and organisations are seen as supporting the protests.
Last December Mairena was convicted of terrorism, murder and organised crime charges he denied.
Judge Edgard Altamirano ruled that Mairena was the mastermind of the murders of five policemen who died during a protest in a municipality in the south of the country and the kidnapping of two other officers.
He has now been jailed for 216 years.
Despite the sentence, the country’s constitution establishes that no Nicaraguan can spend more than 30 years in prison.
“It is an exaggerated, ridiculous and political sentence,” Mairena’s lawyer, Julio Montenegro, told a news conference.
“We are going to appeal and go to international courts.”
Over the weekend, the government and business groups met in an attempt to restart talks to end the crisis that has severely damaged the poor Central American country’s economy.
The business groups demanded the release of more than 600 people they consider to be political prisoners.
Several organisations, including the United Nations, have criticised the “excessive use” of force to control the protests and blame the Ortega government for most of the reported deaths.
The leftist ex-guerrilla has claimed that he is the victim of an attempted coup.