MANAGUA – Nicaragua’s police said on Thursday that they arrested two suspects who are accused of killing Denis Madriz, an anti-government protester whose body was found with a shotgun wound five days after he disappeared.
The police identified the two suspects as Israel Augusto Madrigal Vallecillo, 23, and Walter Jose Lopez Martinez, 36.
Madriz, a 28-year-old opponent of President Daniel Ortega, went missing last Saturday, though his body later appeared at the medical examiner’s office.
His mother, Ada Olivas, said authorities had told her that her son “died during surgery at a hospital, but he has two shotgun wounds.”
The police, who confirmed the shotgun wounds on Thursday, said they had launched the investigation at Oliva’s request, who told reporters at her son’s funeral that she rejected an offer of help from authorities.
Madriz’s family members and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights believe that the murder is linked to “the government repression of citizens who do not share its ideology.”
In June, Madriz denounced on social media that he was being harassed by pro-government groups and said that they should be held responsible if anything happened to him.
Madriz’s death comes in the midst of a crisis that has left between 322 and 512 people dead since anti-government protests began in April, according to human rights organizations.
The government, however, only recognizes 199 deaths.
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has blamed the Ortega government for “more than 300 deaths.”
Ortega has denied responsibilities, claiming he is confronting a coup d’etat.
Protests against the government began on April 18 for some quickly rescinded pension reforms, but continued in the following months with the demand that Ortega resign.