The preparatory hearing began early this morning to determine the admissibility of evidence, including documents filed late by the prosecution. We have confirmed that Judge Kreeger Narvaez is presiding over the hearing. It was earlier confirmed by the Nicaraguan press that Kreeger is not a licensed attorney, never practiced law, and was not properly appointed as a judge under Nicaraguan law. Yesterday, the press released news that Kreeger was charged with aggravated fraud in late 2010. The allegations were referred to the prosecutor, but Kreeger's political affiliations won him a favor to avoid conviction. Early this morning, the Nicaraguan press ran a feature on Kreeger regarding the charges, wihch arose out of credit card fraud. Kreeger was charged with two other individuals. Prosecution, however, has not pursued the charges and one of Kreeger's accomplices has fled the country in the face of an investigation for illegal weapons. Read the full story here in Spanish or tanslated into English.
The first recess did not come until almost 3pm today. We had been waiting (impatiently) and finally received our first update. The prosecutor and inspector general made a motion to throw out almost all the defense evidence, which Judge Kreeger granted in violation of basic rules of evidence. The Judge threw out: 1) the letter from the DEA confirming the DEA was not involved in this case, 2) the video of President Ortega praising the coffee farm, 3) the defense's Real Estate expert, 4) the accountant for RE/MAX - Horizons, and 5) two fact witnesses for the defense. Judge Kreeger ruled only that the evidence was not relevant to the case.
After the recess, trial started with the prosecution’s opening argument. Once trial starts, under Nicaraguan law, it must continue and Judge Kreeger will preside. This was Judge Kreeger's first trial, and it was obvious he was not aware of basic courtroom procedure. We expect trial will continue until late this evening and are waiting for the next update.