From Sat Dec 21 13:49:10 2002
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 00:05:56 -0600 (CST)
From: Nicaragua Network <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 148600
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Aleman Close to Going to Prison

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 16 December 2002

As we reported in a news flash on Friday, the Nicaragua National Assembly on Thursday, December 12, 2002 stripped former President Arnoldo Aleman of his immunity. By Thursday evening he was under close house arrest in his principal home, the El Chile coffee estate in El Crucero, about 35 minutes outside Managua. Only 3-1/2 hours after the historic vote, Aleman was formally charged with complicity in the US$1.3 million fraud involving Channel Six, the government-owned TV station, and for defrauding the government of US$100 million. Judge Ileana Perez opened formal proceedings against him by requiring him to present himself at 2:00pm Nicaragua time on Friday the 13th, to make his formal statement of defense. Aleman pulled one final trick out of his hat at the court appearance. He claimed immunity based on his membership in the Central American Parliament and refused to answer questions. The judges said they would issue an opinion on Monday, December 16, but legal and political commentators unanimously agree that there is no legal merit to Aleman’s claim. The fat man who in 12 years as Managua Mayor and Nicaraguan President managed to accumulate a fortune similar to the one that the Somoza dynasty took 45 years to amass, should be behind bars by the time this hotline is read.

The National Assembly needed 47 votes to lift Aleman’s immunity, and that’s exactly what they got after two alternates were called up to replace missing Constitutional Liberal Party members. All 38 FSLN deputies joined nine former Aleman supporters who have switched their allegiance to President Bolaqos and vote as the Blue & White bench. Aleman’s remaining supporters refused to vote, so the final vote stood at 47-0. Aleman’s supporters vowed public demonstrations, but polls show little public sympathy for him.

This vote covers the removal of Aleman's immunity only; that of his former colleagues, Deputies David Castillo and Marta McCoy will be voted on independently.

Given the seeming mountain of evidence against him, particularly that already presented by President Bolaqos and the fact that his one-time henchman, former Tax Director Byron Jerez, is now serving time for related crimes, it seems likely that the former “King” of Nicaragua will find himself in jail for the New Year.

Nicaragua law is based on the Napoleonic Code which requires the accused to prove himself innocent. Aleman is probably wishing now that he had fled the country along with some of his confederates in crime. Even as his immunity was lifted Prosecutor Francisco Fiallos, announced that Aleman had made use of both his wife, Maria Fernanda Flores and his father-in-law, Jose Antonio Flores Lovo, to transfer nearly US$4 million from the Nicaraguan Democratic Foundation (FDN) to four different societies linked to Flores Lovo in Panama. In what appeared to be yet another clearly smoking gun, press photos showed letters, signed by Aleman himself, requesting officials of the Panamanian bank, Alianza, to allow his wife to collect four different checks, each made out to one of Flores Lovo's companies and drawn on the account of the FDN through yet another company called Nicastate.