A Nicaraguan court began the trial Wednesday of Henry Fariñas, the Nicaraguan businessman who was accompanying Argentine folksinger Facundo Cabral to the Guatemala City airport on July 9, 2011, when Cabral was shot and killed by assailants. The trial of Fariñas could shed some light on the motivations behind the murder of Cabral, who was touring in Guatemala at the time of his death at age 74.
Guatemalan authorities said that Fariñas was the intended target of the July 2011 assassination, allegedly masterminded by Costa Rican Alejandro Jiménez. Both Jiménez and Fariñas have been accused of trafficking drugs from Costa Rica to Nicaragua for the “Los Charros” gang, which is linked to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels.
Jiménez allegedly ordered the attack on Fariñas in retaliation for a supposed betrayal, but Cabral, known as a voice of popular resistance during the 1976-1983 Argentine dictatorship, was killed instead.
Fariñas will stand trial with 23 other defendants, including members of his family and Julio César Osuna, an ex-magistrate for the Supreme Electoral Council of Nicaragua, for collaborating with drug cartels in various Latin American countries and for laundering more than $1 billion in drug money in Nicaragua. Jiménez, jailed in Guatemala, is being tried in Nicaragua in absentia.
Carlos Javier Chavarría, Fariñas’ lawyer, has said that charges against his client are false, arguing that Fariñas was not in fact the owner of a night club known as “Club Nocturno Elite” that is central in his supposed dispute with Jiménez. Jiménez allegedly sought to kill Fariñas because he refused to sell him the club, although there are other versions of what motivated the assassination attempt.
Nicaraguan judge Adela Cardoza will preside over the trial, which began Wednesday in Managua.