Puracal entered Nicaragua in 2002 as a volunteer for the US government’s Peace Corps and stayed after starting a family and setting up a real estate business. US media and some US activists have accused the Nicaraguan judiciary of abusing Puracal’s right to a fair trial.
The United Nations Working Group for Arbitrary Detention has claimed that Puracal was arbitrarily imprisoned and activists allege that no credible evidence was presented during the trial. They even go as far as to say that his defence team was not allowed access to him.
Such serious allegations contrast sharply with statements by the Nicaraguan authorities.
Nicaragua also says documents found in the vehicles revealed an extensive network of partnerships and real estate companies that served as a front to launder money from drugs trafficking.
Political analyst Jorge Capelan says there are question marks over the human rights organizations backing Puracal.
While it is unknown whether the conviction will be upheld during next week’s appeal hearing, what is almost certain is that Puracal’s backers will not respect the decision if it is.