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Seattle University


Fight for Freedom

Written by Katherine Hedland Hansen
October 23, 2012

Jason Puracal told a packed house at the law school about his nightmare in the Nicaraguan justice system and thanked his sister Janis '07 and other supporters who never gave up on freeing him from prison.

Puracal was wrongfully convicted and spent nearly two years in the notorious La Modelo prison before being freed by an appeals court in September. The ordeal is not over yet, as the Nicaraguan government wants his 22-year sentence reinstated. The law school's International Human Rights Clinic led by Professor Tom Antkowiak is intervening on his behalf and preparing a petition to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights asking for a declaration of innocence, reparation and legal reform in Nicaragua.

Antkowiak credited Jason' s sister Janis, a 2007 graduate of Seattle University School of Law, who led the fight for Jason's release. She put together a team of supporters and kept Jason's story in the public eye.

"Janis was the advocate that made it all happen, and I can tell you as someone who dedicates my own profession to international human rights, Janis has really taken me to school," he said. "Janis with her sophisticated advocacy methods has taught me and my clinic so much about what it means to zealously and really fantastically represent your client in both domestic and international proceedings.

Jason said he still loves the country of Nicaragua and the people, and he hopes to return one day to show his son, Jabu, his homeland. He also hopes to establish a foundation to work for reforms  so others don't suffer the human rights violations he did. He is working on a book about his experience.

He is focused on moving forward, seeking a graduate degree to promote urban sustainability, enrolling his son in school and helping his wife, Scarleth, improve her English so she can pursue a career in the law. She completed law school in Nicaragua while her husband was behind bars.

"Everywhere I go people are so warm and loving," he said. "Strangers come up and give me hugs and kisses. I'm loving every minute of it, just being back with my family and my wife and my son."