Priest recounts Contra atrocities


THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- U.S.-backed Contra rebels have created an 'infectious atmosphere' of terror in northern Nicaragua with a vicious campaign of murder, rape, torture and kidnapping, a French priest told the world court today.

Testifying for Nicaragua in a subversion suit against the United States, Father Jean Loison, 54, said he trains nurses at the town of La Trinidad about 55 miles south of the Honduran border in Nicaragua's main war zone.


'There was a Contra attack on La Trinidad Aug. 1 this year,' Loison testified in French before the International Court of Justice. 'They came in about 5 a.m. when it was barely daylight disguised as soldiers of the Sandinista army.

'They attacked in a selective way. They asked for specific people, among them the local leader of the Sandinistas. Unfortunately, they found him and killed him.

'They set the homes of some missionaires alight with rocket fire and also destroyed the corn silo with rocket fire,' he said.

Loison was the fourth person to testify in the suit filed in April 1984. Nicaragua has accused the United States of violating international law through military and paramilitary acts in conspiracy with Contras seeking to overthrow the Marxist government.


Loison said he saw people with serious injuries allegedly inflicted by the Contras in a hospital in La Trinidad where he has worked since the early 1980s.

'One woman came. You could see all inside her abdomen. She had been expecting a baby,' he said.

He said he knew of a handicapped person murdered 'for the fun of it,' of women who had been raped, of a body found with the eyes gouged out and a girl of 15 who had been forced into prostitution at a camp across the border in Honduras.

'There is an infectious atmosphere of terror,' Loison said. 'A girl of 16 was killed, cut into pieces and the remains scattered about.

'I saw coffee plantations that had been completely destroyed ... and schools, villages and bakeries burned down,' he said.

In earlier testimony a former CIA analyst, David C. MacMichael, told the court the United States had no firm evidence that Nicaragua was arming leftist rebels in El Salvador, the original justification offered for the U.S. support of the Contras.

Later today, Nicaraguan Finance Minister William Hupper was scheduled to testify on the economic effects of the war.

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