News from Lori's Parents

28 August 2000

This is day 1,734 of Lori's wrongful incarceration in Perú.

In this update:

Supreme Military Council of Perú nullifies Lori's life sentence - determines she was not guilty of aggrevated terrorism and Treason Against the Fatherland

Thanks to all your help over these four years and nine months we have reached a milestone. The government of Perú has admitted that it made a mistake, that Lori Berenson was never a leader of a terrorist group, that she should not have been tried by a military tribunal, that she was not guilty of treason to the fatherland, and, therefore, her life sentence was nullified.

But we still have a lot of work ahead - as you will read in our press statement below we do not believe it would be possible for Lori to get a fair trial in Perú, even though she is innocent. Now we must pressure the U.S. government to bring Lori home in freedom.

Press Statement by Rhoda and Mark Berenson

New York City Press Conference -- August 28, 2000

Dismissal of Lori Berenson's Case From Peruvian Military Courts

Perú has now admitted that Lori Berenson was not a leader of MRTA. It knows she was not even a member. She has been imprisoned in Perú for four years and nine months under cruel, inhumane, and degrading conditions without justification. Her health is impaired, permanently we fear.

There is no basis in truth, or law, for holding Lori another day.

For years, the government of Perú has ignored the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States, President Clinton, President Carter, the U.S. State Department, the House, the Senate, major international human rights institutions and organizations, and Lori Berenson herself, protesting the denial of due process of law in the proceedings against Lori. In this session 293 members of the U.S. Congress -- 250 members of the House and 43 Senators have demanded Lori Berenson's release. Due process requires that after four years and nine months without a proper trial Lori must be released.

It is not possible for Lori Berenson to have a fair trial in Perú under present conditions. Leading international human rights institutions, organizations, and authorities, and many concerned parties have recognized that the Peruvian political leadership and governmental infrastructure preclude the capability of a fair trial. According to the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report (February 25, 2000) "Proceedings ... for terrorism in civilian courts do not meet internationally accepted standards of openness, fairness and due process."

During the Presidential elections in Perú earlier this year, prejudicial statements were made by such highly important persons as the President of the National Penal Superior Court for Terrorism, the President of the Superior Court of Lima, the official Ombudsman of Perú, a former Peruvian Minister of Justice, and other jurists, Peruvian Congresspersons and other government officials as well. When such high-ranking members of the Peruvian government gratuitously declare Lori Berenson guilty it is obvious that a fair trial is impossible in Perú. It is time for Lori Berenson to be freed and returned home.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson