Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez is facing the initial hearing in what might become a longer judicial process. He has been accused of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity,” of the “dissemination of fake news to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society,” and of “crimes against spirituality.”
The initial hearing, scheduled by Judge Gloria María Saavedra Corrales, will decide if the case requires a public oral trial, and whether or not the bishop will be kept in preventive detention. Last August, Saavedra Corrales sentenced the priests and laymen who were accompanying Bishop Álvarez when he was detained to 90 days in prison.
Last December 13, the court received and accepted the accusation against Bishop Álvarez, appointed him a public defender, ordered him to remain under house arrest and scheduled the initial hearing. The file also includes an accusation against the exiled priest Uriel Antonio Vallejos. An official letter demanding his imprisonment has been sent to the Interpol, according to Swissinfo.ch.
Who is Bishop Álvarez?
Álvarez has always been openly critical of Daniel Ortega’s regime. In May 2018, he was part of a team from the Episcopal Conference that tried to mediate between Ortega and the opposition. The dialogue quickly broke down, leading to strong protests that were met with violent repression. Tensions have increased since then.
In May 2022, he announced an indefinite fast to protest the persecution of the Church by the authorities. Finally, after protesting Ortega’s closing of several Catholic radio stations, he was put under (irregular, and forceful) house arrest.
“Even in this situation we keep our joy, strength, and our inner peace. We continue to show the world that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, we are men and women with the capacity for dialogue,” said Bishop Álvarez in a video sent on August 11th, as he was already under house arrest.