News from Lori's Parents

16 September 2000

This is day 1,753 of Lori's wrongful incarceration in Perú.

In this update:

"Scandal of the millennium" rocks Peruvian government

A video tape showing a Peruvian Congressman accepting a bribe from Perú's intelligence chief Vlademiro Montesinos has brought the government to the brink of destruction today. Opposition Congressmen have called for the arrest of Montesinos, the resignation of President Fujimori, and the establishment of an interim government until free and fair new elections can be held. In May President Fujimori was illegally elected to a third term in a process that international observers said was completely undemocratic and flawed if not fraudulent. It is well known that Perú is run by both Fujimori and Montesinos who share a synergistic relationship. Famed Peruvian political analyst Mirko Laurer described the situation as two brothers clinging to one life raft and one of them must let go. See the home page of our website for updates on this situation.

Lori completes 14 hours of testimony to pre-trial judge and prosecutor

The pre-trial judge and the Peruvian prosecutor compelled Lori to answer questions for the record. This interrogation, in Chorrillos Prison, continued for 14 hours over a three-day period - September 13 - 15. Lori's lawyer reported that she answered all questions calmly, coherently, and satisfactorily throughout the interrogation. She made it perfectly clear that she was never a member of, never associated with, never assisted, and never knew any planned activities of the MRTA. Her lawyer told the US Embassy and the Peruvian press that Lori's testimony was very credible and he will be able to prove what she and we have said all along, that she is innocent of all charges and that she has been imprisoned only for her beliefs.

A fair trial is not possible

On September 5 Lori filed a petition with Peruvian officials showing that her trial was not proceeding fairly. Unfortunately, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to have a fair trial in terrorism-related cases in Perú, even those heard in the civilian courts, because the fundamental human right of due process is secondary to expedience under Peruvian law. The law forces the judge to collect testimony within a very short period of time, and this is at the expense of due process. Perú is currently violating numerous international pacts with respect to due process, particularly the American Convention on Human Rights. Lori was not formally presented with the charges, there was insufficient time for Lori to hire and meet with a lawyer, and insufficient time and means for the lawyer to prepare for the defense. In addition, the judge had already taken testimony from other witnesses without Lori's lawyer present because he had not yet been hired. This contradicts international guarantees of due process.

Meanwhile, "information" on the testimony is being leaked by the Fujimori regime to the media and the media continues to refer to Lori as the "convicted and confessed terrorist" even though her prior conviction was voided three weeks ago and the courtroom trial has not yet started. In addition to the media, Peruvian government officials and members of Perú's Congress have already declared her guilty and President Fujimori has already said she will get at least a 20-year sentence. He picks the judge and there is no jury.

All this demonstrates what the United States Department of State, Human Rights Watch: Americas, and other human rights organizations have all said - Lori Berenson cannot get a fair trial in Perú.

Inter-American commission on human rights of the O.A.S. to hear Lori's case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States has agreed to hold a merit hearing on October 13 in Washington DC on the petition filed by her U.S. legal team headed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. The petition cited the illegality of Lori's civilian trial on several grounds, including that of "double jeopardy" - subjecting Lori to a new trial for the same conduct for which she has already been acquitted.

Lori's interview with Amy Goodman "heard" in Perú

The Peruvian media reported Lori's interview with Pacifica Radio's Amy Goodman (see web site home page to listen to the interview) and played portions of it with translation. Lori talks about mistreatment and torture of prisoners and harsh prison conditions. In addition, she describes Perú as a scared society where people are afraid to speak out for fear of persecution.

Reverend Jesse Jackson confronts President Alberto Fujimori on Lori

At the conclusion of a September 6 luncheon address given by President Alberto Fujimori to the business community in NYC at a meeting of the Counsel of the Americas, the Rev. Jesse Jackson publicly called for Lori's pardon and release. He told President Fujimori that he wanted to come to Lima, meet him, meet Lori, and take her home. President Fujimori responded by saying he was welcome to come to Perú, that the doors to dialogue are always open, and that her case is currently being evaluated in the Peruvian civilian courts.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson