(posted Feb. 17, 5:30 p.m.)- Human rights activists and opposition politicians are reacting with disgust and outrage today to a court ruling that will put two Sandinista activists behind bars for only 3 years for killing a family of three and seriously wounding two others during a bout of post-electoral violence in the rural northern community of Cusmapa following President Daniel Ortega’s reelection last November.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) argues the judge’s sentence is too light and in clear violation of the law, which clearly stipulates a 10-to 15-year minimum prison sentence for homicide.
The sentences for the two carousing Sandinista murderers was reduced to 3 years because they were reportedly drunk at the time of their killing spree.
Cenidh claims the two men—one a former Sandinista political secretary and the other a Sandinista poll watcher—had their sentences reduced because of their political affiliations, in clear violation of any rule of law.
“The decision (by the judge) violates the principle of legality, the constitutional mandate to respect human rights in the administration of justice, judicial security and access to justice,” Cenidh said in a blistering statement on today’s ruling.
“These types of rulings promote impunity and violate Nicaragua’s international commitments to protect human rights,” Cenidh said.
Furthermore, Cenidh lambasted the “drunken frat boy defense”—the idea that somehow an individual cannot be legally held to account for his actions if he get loaded enough first (a legal precedent that has drunken delinquents missing high-fives with one another all across the country, as they get wasted and loud in stupid in celebration of the impunity).
Cenidh notes that the Sandinista court system set the horrific precedent for the frat-boy defense last year by reducing the prison sentence—and eventually pardoning altogether—for another Sandinista who used the drunk-and-stupid defense to wiggle out of doing hard time for raping his colleague, Fatima Hernández.
The opposition is also complaining.
Opposition lawmaker Armando Herrera, who represents the northern department of Madriz where the killings took place, said the sentence shows the “the manipulation by the long arm of Orteguismo.”
“We consider this sentence to be an embarrassment, without any judicial sense, and a clear evidence of the political-partisan management with which our fragile judicial system is manipulated to punish the innocent and absolve the guilty who serve the dictator,” reads a statement released by the opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI).