Nicaraguan prosecutors drop case against Daniel Ortega in 1980s killings of Miskito Indians

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua's attorney general has dropped a complaint against President Daniel Ortega and other former Sandinista officials in the killings of at least 64 Miskito Indians by Nicaraguan troops in the early 1980s.

Prosecutor Ana Julia Guido told reporters Monday that the case was dropped because of insufficient evidence about who gave the orders to engage in the confrontation.

Her office said the plaintiffs who filed the suit against Ortega for crimes against humanity also failed to meet a deadline to file an appeal.

One of those who filed the complaint claims authorities did not really investigate the case. Marcos Carmona of the independent Permanent Human Rights Commission says an appeal has already been filed to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

Ortega has called the accusations a political tactic to smear him.

The complaints stem from clashes between Sandinista government forces — which were trying to create a new, leftist society after overthrowing dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 — and the English-speaking Indian peoples of the Caribbean coast who sought greater autonomy.

Disagreements escalated to armed clashes in 1981 and 1982, and led to the forced relocation of thousands of Miskitos. Sandinista responses grew heavier as some Indians joined the U.S.-backed "Contra" rebellion against the leftist government.

Carmona said his organization conducted investigations in eight communities in the region and confirmed that 13 other people had been tortured and 15 were missing.