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Puracal's family fights 22-year prison sentence | Rally slated for Obama's visit Sept. 25
The nightmare continues for Jason Puracal and his family. On Sept. 20, the Tacoma native was sentenced to a 22-year sentence in a maximum security prison in Nicaragua. The news about his sentence comes on the heels of reports that Puracal was injured in recent weeks, after he was severely burned during an accident at the prison in which he now resides.
United States Attorney Anna Tolin, of the Tolin Law Firm, said the sentencing of Puracal illustrates the corrupt nature of the Nicaraguan legal justice system.
“(The person who sentenced Puracal) is a Nicaraguan political agent of the Socialist Sandinista Party that is neither a judge nor licensed attorney,” she’s quoted in a press release from the Puracal family. “Despite all evidence to the contrary, this former Peace Corps volunteer was convicted on false charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. The trial process was replete with violations of Nicaraguan law and failed to meet even minimum standards of due process and fairness.”
The Nicaraguan press confirmed that 29-year-old Kriguer Alberto Artola Navarez “does not meet the requirements to serve as a judge and is not a licensed attorney,” according to the Puracal family.
Tolin said that Navarez was instead, “assigned to the bench by the Sandinista government in violation of Nicaraguan law,” and that Narvaez “issued the sentence in absentia, never calling the defendants or legal team back into the courtroom to face them.”
Puracal’s defense team will file an immediate appeal in the Appeals Tribunal of Granada, the family said.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, one of the few American officials to express concern over Puracal’s situation, again expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation as it stands.
“They presented no evidence of a crime here. They have simply kidnapped and held him for a period of time — not in compliance with international law nor Nicaraguan law,” he said.
Even judicial scholars within Nicaragua have said Puracal’s arrest, conviction and sentencing are a sham. Gabriel Alvarez, a Nicaraguan constitutional analyst, is quoted as saying that “Nicaragua’s lost all its institutional legitimacy and rule of law” in an article from the Tico Times. The Tico Times is recognized as being the leading source of news for English-speaking people in Central America.
Internationally, Nicaraguan courts are known to be among some of the most corrupt. The World Economic Forum has Nicaraguan courts as ranking 132 out of 139 in being the least independent in the world, according to the families press release.
Puracal’s supporters, in light of his sentencing, are also calling for people in the Puget Sound region to rally during President Barack Obama’s appearance Sept. 25 in Seattle. They plan to gather at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and Pine Street at 8:30 a.m. and walk to the Paramount Theater at 8:45 a.m. They plan to rally at the entrance of the Paramount. According to the family, Puracal’s sisters and mother also plan on attending President Obama’s event at the Paramount. Custom made shirts are available for those interested, and can be obtained by calling (800) 293-4232. Once dialed in, those interested have to reference the “freejasonp” T-shirt.
To learn more about the case, visit www.freejasonp.com.