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Nicaraguan court convicts Puracal in 'flawed system'

Jason Puracal was found guilty of money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime by a Nicaraguan court on Aug. 29. - Courtesy photo
Jason Puracal was found guilty of money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime by a Nicaraguan court on Aug. 29.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Jason Puracal was found guilty of money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime by a Nicaraguan court on Aug. 29.

Puracal’s family, sisters Janis and Jamie and mother Daisy, have been fighting on his behalf since November 2010, when he was rounded up by Nicaraguan government agents. Puracal was falsely charged and imprisoned on those same money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime charges.

Monday’s decision came as a mortal blow in his family’s efforts to get their loved one out of prison and back to the United States.

“We are outraged by this verdict. The prosecution did not enter a single piece of evidence against Jason, and the prosecution’s own witnesses proved that Jason is innocent. In is unconscionable what the police, the prosecution and the judge have done to Jason,” the family said in a prepared statement delivered to media on Aug. 30.

“For those of you who have been following the trial, you know that the judge had thrown out much of our evidence, leaving the defense case crippled,” the family said. “He had also cut off the defense questioning of the prosecution’s witnesses. We are, of course, prepared to appeal the verdict. In addition to the complete lack of evidence against Jason, our biggest ground for appeal is the fact that Jason has been convicted by a man who is neither a real judge nor a lawyer.”

Describing the outcome as nightmarish, the family said they are prepared to do anything to ensure that Jason gets back home.

“You can all bet that we will move heaven and earth to get Jason home,” they said.

Puracal’s defense lawyer in Nicaragua, Fabbrith Gomez Mesa, also expressed disgust at Monday’s decision.

“In Nicaragua the system is backward. The falsely accused are forced to prove their innocence,” Mesa said in a prepared statement. “Jason, who is innocent, has been declared guilty by a man who is not even a real judge. The branches of government are not independent of each other. The independence of judges in making decisions does not exist, the rule of law in Nicaragua exists only on paper, but does not apply in practice.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, whose district includes the Federal Way area, is the only high-ranking government official who seems concerned with Puracal’s plight. Smith issued his own statement on Aug. 30 regarding the conviction.

“Jason Puracal has been taken away from his wife and son for nearly nine months and put on trial for drug trafficking and money laundering. Unfortunately, last night (Aug. 29), Jason was convicted of all counts against him in a flawed Nicaraguan justice system. I was hoping for a better outcome for Jason and his family,” Smith said. “Going forward, my office will continue to advocate for Jason as an American citizen and work with the State Department to explore all options under international law.”

For more information on this case, visit www.FreeJasonP.com.

 

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