MANAGUA, Nicaragua - A Nicaraguan judge ruled that an American nurse can remain in the country, overturning a government resolution that tried to force her out because she allegedly treated leftist rebels.
Government officials had revoked Dorothy Granada's residency and ordered her to leave Nicaragua or face criminal charges. They have accused the 70-year-old nurse of caring for members of the Andres Castro United Front, a leftist paramilitary group of ex-Sandinista soldiers, and of performing abortions, which are illegal here.
On Friday, however, Judge Alvaro Ramirez annulled the government's resolution because he said she wasn't given the right to defend herself.
''She wasn't notified, and she wasn't given a date to appear before government authorities, and that isn't legal,'' Ramirez said.
His decision could be overturned by an appellate court.
The Sandinistas, who had close ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union, came to power by revolution and ruled Nicaragua during the 1980s. They were deposed in a 1990 election, but have made recent gains in local elections, including winning the mayorship of Managua, the capital.
The Andres Castro United Front was one of several groups of former combatants that formed to demand government aid in the aftermath of the war.
Granada, originally from California, arrived in Nicaragua in 1990, establishing a clinic in remote Mulukuku village, 150 miles northeast of Managua.
A Santa Cruz, Calif., based humanitarian group, the Women's Empowerment Network, has said Granada has only tried to provide health care for poor Nicaraguans.
The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center said Granada is ''in hiding and very sick'' while waiting for her case to be resolved.
The center had asked the courts to throw out the deportation order, and Nicaraguan supporters, including five former Contra rebels, have pleaded her case before the country's Congress.
A U.S. Embassy official said officials are closely following the case.