Nicaraguan lawmakers Ok amnesty for crimes during protests

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Lawmakers allied to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Saturday approved an amnesty bill for crimes related to last year's anti-government protests, over staunch criticism from the opposition.

Critics say it would forgive abuses committed by police and pro-government civilian militias during a deadly crackdown on demonstrators who were demanding Ortega leave office.

The ruling Sandinista bloc said the law seeks "reconciliation" and a "stable and lasting peace." Ortega's allies consider the student-led protests a "failed coup d'etat."

Azahálea Solís of the Civic Alliance opposition group told The Associated Press the amnesty "attempts to disguise impunity for those who ordered, directed or participated in murders of citizens."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says the crackdown resulted in 325 people dead, over 2,000 wounded, 770 jailed and 60,000 who fled the country.

The law benefits those who committed "political crimes and related common crimes" after April 18, 2018, when the student-led protests against Ortega erupted. Those receiving the amnesty must "refrain from perpetrating new political crimes or any other criminal activity" or lose the benefits, the bill's text said.

"What is intended is to free the real culprits of the crimes," said Liberal lawmaker María Haydeé Ozuna.

The law will become effective when it is published in the official gazette La Gaceta.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, tweeted that the Ortega government "has a duty to guarantee accountability and justice for the victims." ??

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