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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Police in Nicaragua said Friday they have opened an investigation into a Roman Catholic bishop who has been an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

They accused the head of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Bishop Rolando Alvarez, of “organizing violent groups” and inciting them to “act of hatred against the population”.

The police statement on Friday said the investigation would include some people and warned they would not be allowed to leave their homes while the investigation was underway.

Alvarez had been inside his residence when police cordoned off the area on Thursday. Álvarez came out to pray in the street and approached them with an outstretched cross. Police blocked his attempt to go to the cathedral on Friday, so he celebrated Mass at home instead.

Just hours after First Lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo criticized “crimes against spirituality” and “showing hatred” in an apparent reference to Álvarez, The police announced the news.

Earlier, Wilfredo Navarro, the congressional leader of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front party, accused Alvarez of creating a media circus in front of the police to “renew violence and chaos”.

Navarro accused Alvarez and others of directing what Ortega and his party see as an attempted coup attempt in April 2018. Navarro said the church was a “cave of criminals and murderers” and that Alvarez was “turning the church again into a base where they store their weapons and plan violence.”

He warned that Alvarez was not above the law.

Navarro and Murillo’s comments appeared to set the stage for police to announce an investigation later Friday.

In his Friday sermon, Alvarez said he and others confined to his residence “have in our hearts happiness, inner strength and peace in our lives.” Neither the church leadership in Nicaragua nor the Vatican are right Comment on the situation this week.

This week, the Ortega government shut down eight radio stations and one TV station in the Matagalpa province in northern Managua. Seven of these radio stations are run by the church.



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