Fallout from Montes Case Continues; Eye Witnesses Describe Torture, as Blatant Human Rights Violations Continue in Nicaragua.

The Modelo Prison in Tipitapa, already infamous since the 1970s, reached another low this week, when a guard shot and killed Eddy Montes, a political prisoner. The shooting triggered a vicious attack on Montes’ fellow inmates that left at least seventeen of them wounded. Now, more details about what happened inside the prison are trickling out.

Relatives were allowed visitation on Friday afternoon, nearly 24-hours after Montes’ death. Several of them granted interviews to local media outlets, describing what their loved ones had told them about the attack. Cindy Téllez, the sister of Daniel Téllez, spoke to Artículo 66. She confirmed what other people who were allowed to see the prisoners have stated: They were all severely beaten and abused.

“The [guards] used pepper spray on them; they contaminated their water with pepper spray, so that if they would not be able to rinse off their faces because the water was contaminated. They pepper sprayed their genitals, anus, testicles, and mouth,” said Téllez.

What Téllez describes is not the first report of sexual abuse of prisoners. In July of 2018, Marco Novoa told Telemundo about his time in one of Ortega’s prisons, where he was tortured and sexually abused for eight days. Novoa, who is a United States citizen, was released and left Nicaragua for the United States.

Like Novoa, other survivors of Ortega’s prisons have taken their to the media. For example, in March of this year, the evening news magazine Esta Semana interviewed a survivor of sexual abuse, identified only as Virgo, who was assaulted by two female police officers while in custody, while male police officers threatened to rape her.

The State of Nicaragua is a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Article 4 of this convention mandates that “Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law.” Nicaragua’s . Article 4 of the Penal Code forbids the use of torture, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. Furthermore, Article 486 imposes a penalty of seven to ten years of prison to anyone any “authority, public official, or employee” who utilizes torture for any reason whatsoever.


Nicaraguan Penal Code, Article 4

Nicaraguan Penal Code, Article 486

Prison Video Finds Way to Social Media

Though there is little chance that what happened at the Modelo on Thursday afternoon will be investigated by the Ortega-Murillo authorities, videos smuggled out of the prison have found their way to the public, via social media. On Saturday morning, several independent news outlets shared a grainy video shot from inside the Modelo. In the video, male voices can be heard yelling “they killed someone!” Detonations can also be heard. The video ends with a shot of a large group of prison guards.

IACHR Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrao, shared the prison video, commenting that “Nicaragua has violated international human rights standards in a generalized manner. The state is responsible for protecting the lives of all people in its custody. The political detainees are at high risk of suffering irreparable damage to their human rights.”

In addition to the video, another prison letter was made public today, describing what happened at the Modelo on Thursday afternoon. The letter includes a diagram titled “Croquis del Asesinato de Eddy Montes” (Diagram of the Murder of Eddy Montes).

However, prisoners have not just shared videos and testimonies related to the death of Mr. Montes and its aftermath. This morning, Nicaraguan independent media and many others shared the last recording of Eddy Montes while he was alive. The video shows the conditions inside the housing block were he was held, along with political prisoners Nahiroby Olivas and Byron Estrada, among others.

The Archdiocese of Managua issued a statement this morning, calling for an investigation of the events at La Modelo, conducted by “national and international competent entities.” The Archdiocese acknowledges that there are “contradictory versions” of what happened. However, they also say that the testimonies from the political prisoners cannot be discounted.

“We cannot ignore the unfair aggressions against political prisoners, which have come to our attention through the testimonies that they, themselves, have transmitted to their relatives. We demand for them conditions that reflect their human dignity, and respect for their human rights,” reads the statement.

As of this writing, the Ortega-Murillo government has not addressed any of the prisoner’s claims, not even to dismiss them as false.

Today, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are in Niquinohomo, to commemorate the 124th anniversary of Sandino’s birth. Ortega and Murillo travelled in his armored Mercedes Benz, escorted a large security detail, which included an ambulance.