News from Lori's Parents
30 April 2001
In this update:
- Please help Lori: Suggested actions for this week
- Keep your Reps and Senators informed
- The sixth week of Lori's public trial: A spectacle for the press
- Nancy Gilvonio refuses to testify publicly
- Peruvian ballistics experts testify
- Handwriting experts testify
- Lori transported to court by police helicopter to prevent "fabricated rescue attempt"
- Indianapolis-based church supports Lori's freedom
Please help Lori: Suggested actions for this week
Did you know that we have downloadable fliers and petitions on our web site? Please go to http://www.freelori.org/downloads.html and print the petition at the top. Get 10 signatures and send it in to the White House.
Keep your Reps and Senators informed
Also, we are currently preparing packets of information for Members of Congress so that they will know what has been going on in Lori's trial, about all of the due process violations, and that there is no evidence against her. The Washington, DC Free Lori office will be hand-delivering some packets but if you or anyone you know could visit your Representative or Senators at a local office or in DC, please contact us. For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sixth week of Lori's public trial: A spectacle for the press
Four hearings were held this past week. To date, 18 hearings were held since the start on March 20.
This has been an "open" trial -- open to the press and the public. Certainly it benefits Lori to have an audience and the press. But it seems to be even more beneficial to Judge Ibazeta who continues to use the press in his efforts to be elected Peruvian Ombudsman.
The election for Ombudsman has been delayed but is still scheduled to be held in the present session of Congress where there are many members of Fujimori's party who hold a very hard line on terrorism and who over the years have vilified Lori. In addition, Judge Ibazeta has commented in interviews that the public is also judging Lori although only he and his two colleagues will decide the verdict. This week's events demonstrate how Judge Ibazeta is playing to public opinion.
Nancy Gilvonio refuses to testify publicly
Nancy Gilvonio, wife of the late MRTA leader Nestor Cerpa, was brought to the courtroom on Tuesday April 24 and placed in the cage behind Lori. She calmly and politely told the court that her lawyer was not present and that she would not testify from behind bars. She acknowledged that the Fujimori dictatorship was over, there is a new government, but the justice system had not yet changed and she refused to testify under the present conditions
Putting a witness in the cage prejudices public opinion, sending a message that he or she is dangerous and untrustworthy. Judge Ibazeta ruled that Lori and Pacifico Castrellon were permitted to testify from outside the cage because they were both in new trial processes and must be presumed innocent. Miguel Rincon and Nancy Gilvonio were convicted and, therefore, had to testify inside the cage. This is NOT based on Peruvian law. It is simply a decision of the judge. The court in Chorrillos Prison where Lori is being held, and other courts, have no cage.
It is interesting to note that Castrellon, the only witness against Lori, was granted a new trial a few days before he testified just in time to allow him to testify outside the cage. But more than a dozen witnesses, who in the investigative phase testified that Lori was not a member of the MRTA and never collaborated with that group, are themselves members of the group. They are all presently in prison and would have to testify from inside the cage. Several of them, in addition to Miguel Rincon and Nancy Gilvonio, were scheduled to testify in the open hearings but the prosecutor has decided not to call them, saying "These witnesses are not of major significance."
Peruvian ballistics experts testify
On Wednesday April 25 Peruvian police ballistics experts testified about the pattern of bullet holes found on the walls of the large La Molina house when the shootout occurred on the night of November 30, 1995. Nobody could understand the purpose of this session except possibly to remind the public that Lori is accused of associating with a group that was involved in violence.
Handwriting experts testify
On Thursday and Friday handwriting experts testified as to whether or not Lori had written on two documents: a seating plan of the Congress that has handwritten numbers and a typed document entitled "Plan Brady" that has several handwritten editorial and spelling corrections, written by several people. The prosecution experts were from DINCOTE in spite of the fact that in a textbook written by the prosecutor it is advised that to avoid conflict of interest prosecutors should use only civilian experts. The defense experts were university professors of criminology specializing in handwriting analysis. The prosecution concluded that the numbers on the seating chart and some of the editorial comments were Lori's and the defense said that it was impossible to conclude that the writing was Lori's.
Neither of these documents is even important. The seating plan simply shows squares arranged as the seats in Congress. They are consecutively numbered by hand. It is difficult to see how it would be useful in planning an attack on Congress especially since it isn't nearly as detailed as the photos that appear regularly in the press. We have photos from newspapers from 1995 to the present that show the entire Congress -- members sitting in their seats, guard posts, doors, etc.
"Plan Brady" is a 42-page typed document consisting of three articles. The first is on the Brady Plan, an economic plan in which the US government guarantees loans to third world countries. The other two give the historical development of the MRTA and a socio-politico-economic platform. There is nothing related to an attack on Congress or any other future plans of the MRTA. On Friday the judge asked that the entire 42 pages be read aloud, probably to remind the public of the MRTA ideology an ideology the judge assumes is not popular.
Lori transported to court by police helicopter to prevent "fabricated rescue attempt"
For five weeks Lori has been taken to and from the courtroom with a military police escort of several motorcycles and vans containing soldiers on alert with weapons drawn. This week it was announced that Lori was being transported by police helicopter to prevent a "rescue attempt by MRTA" a group whose last effort in Lima occurred more than four years ago and is not known to have any members at large. This reminded us of the days of fear under the Fujimori-Montesinos regime and appeared to be an effort once again to paint Lori as a dangerous terrorist. The newspapers carried articles and photos of the helicopter. (See the home page at www.freelori.org.)
Indianapolis-based church supports Lori's freedom
Last month, the national magazine of the United Church of Christ, The Disciple, had the announcement on page 12 of seven resolutions to be presented to the joint General Assembly/General Synod with the United Church of Christ in Kansas City in July. The one by Eastgate Christian Church of Indianapolis heads the list, entitled "Release of Lori Berenson" with a paragraph on the gist of that motion. Many thanks to Reverend William Nottingham and the Indianapolis Disciples/UCC Congregation for all of their support.