MATAGALPA, Nicaragua – Hundreds of people turned out Sunday to honor an opposition member who was killed during a prison riot last week in Nicaragua.
Eddy Montes, who was a dual US-Nicaraguan citizen, died when he was shot by a guard last Thursday at the La Modelo penitentiary, located 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Managua, the Government Ministry said.
The 57-year-old Montes, an opponent of President Daniel Ortega, was killed during a riot by political prisoners, officials said.
A wake is being held for Montes in Matagalpa, a city located about 131 kilometers (81 miles) north of the capital, where the slain opposition member’s body arrived early Sunday from the coroner’s office in Managua.
A group of young people placed a Nicaraguan flag, the symbol of the protests against Ortega’s Sandinista administration, on the opposition member’s coffin, an EFE reporter confirmed on the scene.
Some protesters changed slogans against Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, as well as the National Police.
“Eddy Montes, present, present,” the young protesters, who carried Nicaraguan flags, chanted.
Officials deployed hundreds of riot police in Matagalpa to deal with any protests sparked by the wake.
Montes, who had been reported missing in October and later turned up in prison, was shot in a struggle with a guard, officials said.
The riot broke out while a Red Cross delegation was meeting with prison authorities, officials said.
At least 31 inmates staging a protest were injured in the riot, the Nicaraguan Association of Political Prisoners said.
The group released audio and photographs smuggled out of the prison that documented a different situation than that described in the official government version of the incident.
Nicaragua is dealing with its worst crisis in decades, with Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) figures showing that 325 people have died in the political violence since April 2018.
Other organizations put the death toll at 593, while the Ortega administration says just 199 people have died in what it labels an attempted coup.
The IACHR said the government was holding at least 809 “political prisoners,” a figure that is more than double the number of people the Ortega administration, which refers to the inmates as “terrorists,” “coup plotters” and “common criminals,” admits to holding.