Nicaragua: death of ex-rebel leader in jail triggers calls for release of political prisoners
By James Blears
Former General Hugo Torres aged 73, a one-time ally and friend of President Daniel Ortega, died in detention on Saturday. He`d been transferred from a prison cell for treatment in hospital. Constant concerns about his health appear to have to gone unheeded until it was too late.
Ortega aged 76, won a fourth consecutive Presidential term in November, virtually unopposed. It followed a government crackdown in which dozens of opposition politicians and activists were arrested and jailed, including seven potential Presidential Candidates.
The European Union has sent condolences to the family of Hugo Torres and is demanding an independent investigation into his death. The US State Department says detaining people under such conditions, especially the elderly is entirely unacceptable.
Nicaragua is being urged to accept an official visit by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights. The Organization of American States is demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners. Forty-six have been detained under the enveloping National Integrity Laws. So far, eighteen have been jailed for between eight and thirteen years.
General Torres helped storm a prison during the Somoza dictatorship, helping to free Daniel Ortega. Torres himself spent his last days in captivity.