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Final verdict

"Final verdict" Continued...

Issue: "Opium wars," May 12, 2007

To this, the Volz camp wonders: From where and why? The family says money was always scarce, plus Alvarado wouldn't have had authority to drop criminal charges. Alvarado says that it might have been a ploy to see if her scruples had a buyout price. She didn't want money. "What I need is my daughter," she told El Nuevo Diario.

Volz's parents largely view that paper as the great antagonist. "Before the trial even began," Maggie says, "he was tried in the papers . . . with headlines like 'What crown does Volz wear?'" She says she contacted El Nuevo Diario directly to request an interview: The paper declined. The defense team offered up its trial arguments for publication: No again. The Volz family ultimately bought an ad in the paper and listed them.

American media like The Wall Street Journal and The Today Show have covered the battle, but Volz told WORLD that he's frustrated with coverage that exaggerates his predicament into a murder mystery suffused with romantic intrigue. Some headlines have sounded like Agatha Christie books ("Romance, a murder and an American in Nicaraguan jail"). At the time of Jiménez's death, Volz says, he was "not dating or romantically involved with her." For a rare moment, his words echo Alvarado: "The media keep trying to make this into something it was not, therefore missing what it really is."

Nor have the authorities made things easy. Their inconveniences include barring a U.S. Embassy official from the courtroom and delaying the release of trial transcripts the defense needed for its appeal. The Volz family has tried to put pressure on the Nicaraguan government by reaching audiences directly through a website, a MySpace page, and YouTube video that now has 78,000 views and urges at the end, "Write your senator and congressman and demand justice." (An anti-Volz group also has a YouTube video, titled "The Other Side of the Story.")

Letters and emails pour in each week. Eric Volz's dad Jan, a tour director in Nashville and former member of the Christian rock band The 77s, has stayed stateside and made enviable headway in the corridors of power. Presidential candidates John Edwards and John McCain became Volz's MySpace "friends," though Jan is loath to let this "become political football." He's had fruitful meetings with State Department officials, although the situation's diplomatic delicateness confines their efforts largely to "monitoring."

The Anthonys and Jan Volz say they daily see God's redemption. As they've depleted their life savings, new donations have flowed in. Through the trial, both legal and spiritual, they've seen Eric's faith renewed and his story inspire many worldwide, prompting Jan to compare his son's imprisonment loosely to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Jan prays for liberation, but says, "I've prepared myself for whatever."

Last month the Toruño court finally sent Volz's file to the Court of Appeals. Upon its receipt, the court has six days to hold a hearing and five to rule on the matter. It's an 11-day turnaround, but those familiar with the system counsel the pragmatism of staying stoic; they've seen the process stall arbitrarily at this point for innumerable trivial reasons. A guilty verdict here can be appealed once more to the Supreme Court, though everyone is hoping for closure.

Jan Volz says he'll continue "screaming for justice"-but so will many in the Nicaraguan populace who have a different idea of what it means in this case.

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