Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office asks to extend priest’s detention period without detailing the charges
(CNN Spanish) — The priest Oscar Benavides Dávila, pastor of the Holy Spirit Church of the Municipality of Mulukukú, in the Diocese of Siuna, in the northern Caribbean of Nicaragua, will remain detained under “investigation”, at the request of the Public Ministry of Nicaragua, according to the electronic system Nicarao, of the Judicial Power of Nicaragua. In the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, the State of Nicaragua is declared “victim and offended” although the alleged crime committed by the priest is not specified or if there is an accusation against him.
Lawyer Maynor Cuetis explains that the Nicarao system consists of a digital platform in which the parties involved in a trial are informed about judicial decisions, including sentences, minutes of the hearings and also reflects when the parties are notified or they present new writings, although these cannot be visualized. Employees of the judiciary and private attorneys and public defenders can access the Nicarao system through a password.
According to the Nicarao system, prosecutor Manuel de Jesús Rugama requested on August 15 a special hearing for protection of constitutional guarantees that is “in process” and the extension of the term for complementary investigation and judicial detention that, according to a reform of the criminal code, could be up to 90 days. The case is in charge of the head of the tenth criminal court of hearings of Managua, Gloria María Saavedra Corrales.
Neither the Police, nor the Prosecutor’s Office, nor the judiciary have provided details of this case through their official pages. CNN is trying to find his version, but so far a response is awaited.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm the location and condition in which Benavides is found, who would be, according to digital media, in the prison of the Directorate of Judicial Assistance.
Benavides Dávila was detained by the police on August 14, according to the Diocese of Siuna and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, Cenidh. The Diocese said it did not know the causes of the religious’s arrest.
This trial against Benavides is announced in the midst of deepening tensions between the Catholic Church and the government of President Daniel Ortega.
Bishop of Matagalpa served 15 days detained
The bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez —one of the most critical bishops of the government— celebrates this Thursday 15 days under siege at the episcopal see in Matagalpa, along with other priests and laity.
The National Police, through a statement dated August 5, reported the start of investigations for allegedly “trying to organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, causing an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, altering the peace and harmony in the community, with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities,” the police statement said.
Monsignor Álvarez said he did not know why he is being investigated, and in his homilies, from the curia and through digital media, he has urged prayer and dialogue in the country.
This Wednesday, 25 former heads of state and government from Latin America and Spain, members of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas, rejected in a joint statement what they considered repression of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, while asking Pope Francis “adopt a firm stance in defense of the Nicaraguan people” and their religious freedom.
For their part and in recent days, the Episcopal Conferences of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador have expressed solidarity and closeness with Álvarez and the Nicaraguan ecclesial authorities.
The conflict between the government and the Catholic Church deepened after the start of the 2018 anti-government protests, when the religious participated as mediators in the national dialogue with which a peaceful solution to the conflict was sought.