Horrifying violations of civil & human rights, breaches of due process, extortion, & torture

Wayne and his loving wife of 36 years, Frada.

Wayne and his loving wife of 36 years, Frada.

Wayne Cooperman – American citizen and loving husband, father, and grandfather – has been held captive in a Nicaraguan prison since early April 2013. He has been falsely accused of heinous charges by a family attempting to extort him for money. Even with an oral, in-court confession from a member of the family declaring Wayne’s innocence and admitting she was involved in the extortion plans from the beginning, a guilty verdict has been issued by what appears to be a pro-government associate judge. Medical and forensic evidence point in Wayne’s favor as does expert witness testimony, but the judge has declared all of this inadmissible in court without giving any legal reason for doing so.

Due to a lack of evidence to support the prosecution’s accusations, the Nicaraguan government has resorted to many underhanded tactics to delay the trial, influence judicial officials, and coerce Wayne to confess. These include multiple breaches of due process and horrifying violations of Cooperman’s civil and human rights. His first month of imprisonment was spent in “El Chipote,” a facility notorious for its long and consistent history of torture.

Wayne shown in the back of a truck being brought to El Chipote, a prison known for its long and consistent history of torture.

Wayne shown in the back of a truck being brought to El Chipote, a prison known for its long and consistent history of torture.

Wayne spent 24 hours a day in a dark, dirty cell with no windows, no chairs, no bed, and no access to his attorneys or visitors. He was placed in solitary confinement in a small room infested with spiders and human feces, then left there for hours in the dark. Wayne feared for his life as he witnessed other prisoners beaten if they complained or reported mistreatment by prison officials to visitors or authorities. He is now being held at “La Carcel Modelo.” It is considered to be Nicaragua’s most dangerous prison, with gang violence and murder not uncommon. Wayne shares a filthy cell with eleven other men. They sleep on the concrete floor, use a bucket of dirty water to bathe, and a hole in the ground as their restroom. We are very concerned for his health and safety.

The multiple extortion attempts against Cooperman have been documented with the Nicaraguan authorities for months before his arrest on April 11th. When Wayne refused to pay the family, they then filed multiple phony charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Due to recently passed legislation in Nicaragua, which many local attorneys and civil rights activists believe is unconstitutional, anyone accused of crimes of this nature is immediately thrown in jail and held until trial, regardless of evidence. The Nicaraguan justice system at the local level is extremely corrupt, horribly inefficient, and money-driven. It is a revenue stream.

Now that a conviction has been issued, the state can take up to five months to issue a sentence while Wayne sits and waits in what he describes as a “hellhole.” Until a sentence is issued, an appeal will not be heard. The Nicaraguan District Attorney is seeking a 52-year sentence. Wayne Cooperman is 61 years old. In these unsanitary and inhumane conditions, along with Wayne’s already rapidly declining health and pre-existing health problems, we fear he may not have long to prove his innocence.

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