A group of US lawmakers has written to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega urging him to review the case of an American jailed on drug trafficking charges and to improve his prison conditions.
In a May 9 letter, they said Jason Puracal, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after his arrest in November 2010 on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.
The 43 congressmen said Puracal -- who married a Nicaraguan, had a child with her and started a real estate business -- has repeatedly declared his innocence, according to a copy of the letter given to AFP by his lawyer Jared Genser.
It also said his lawyers contend that Puracal's due process rights under Nicaraguan law were violated.
"We understand he has been denied edible food, potable water, and proper medical care," the letter said, citing information from his family and lawyers.
"He is also currently sharing a cell with eight other men in which there is no running water. The cell includes a hole in the ground that serves as a sink, shower and dishwashing area, and we are disturbed to understand, a toilet."
They also heard that "his cell and bed are infested with ticks and ants that have left bites all over his body," the letter said.
"There is a compelling need for a thorough and objective prosecutorial review of Mr. Puracal's case to determine his innocence under Nicaraguan law," it said.
"We urge you to both ensure that Mr. Puracal's case is thoroughly and independently reviewed by your prosecutors and that the conditions under which he is detained improve," the Congressmen urged Ortega.
Congressman Smith's office told AFP a copy of the letter was also sent to the State Department.
Source: AFP American Edition