Third priest arrested amid repression of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua

Third priest arrested amid repression of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua

Third priest arrested amid repression of the Catholic Church in Scar Benavidez during Mass (Photo: Reproduction/Diocese of Matagalpa) Father Scar Benavidez Dvila was arrested on Sunday (14/08) amid an escalation of repression in the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. In addition to the closure of seven diocesan radio stations, the ban on processions and the expulsion of 18 nuns from the Order of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, two other priests have been arrested in the country since June last year.

According to the court case, the Nicaraguan state considers itself “victim and offended” by the cleric’s actions, but the crime he allegedly committed is not specified. scar Benavidez works in the community of Espírito Santo in Mulukuk, in the extreme north of Nicaragua.

Police say the priest is in Mangua, the country’s capital, according to a report on the website Confidencial, a vehicle for independent Nicaraguan journalism. According to church sources, he is being held in a prison called “El Chipote”, which has been denounced as a torture center by human rights organizations.

A reform of Nicaragua’s Penal Code, passed by the National Assembly in February last year, extended the length of criminal investigation detention from 48 hours to three months. Prosecutors are asking for an investigation into Benavidez, who was removed from his vehicle and arrested by police after celebrating mass on Sunday.

According to Confidential, the priest is known for his charisma and was a former advisor to the Ministry of Youth in the Diocese of Matagalpa. In 2018, after the crisis provoked by the repression of Daniel Ortega’s regime, “the priest began to see how the parishioners were afraid to attend Mass and began to resign from the pastoral positions that he considered were transferred to priests”.

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The other two priests arrested last year were Manuel Garca de Nandaime and Monsignor Leonardo Urbina. The first was accused of assaulting a woman, and the second of rape. In both cases, the trials were characterized by a lack of due process, according to independent legal experts.

For 14 days, the Bishop of Matagalpa, Archbishop Rolando Alvrez, has been under police siege with eight other people in the Episcopal Crea of ​​Matagalpa. He is critical of the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The country’s telecoms regulator said the seven closed religious radio stations did not meet the technical requirements to go on the air, without specifying which.

According to Confidencial, the judge in charge of the case is part of the courts that have tried political prisoners as part of a network of officials who subordinated their judicial decisions to the party of Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua.