News from Lori's Parents

26 December 2001

In this update:

Lori brutally moved to new prison

As the US and Peruvian governments were recessing for the Christmas holidays we were horrified to learn that when Lori was moved to the remote mountain prison in Cajamarca it was done brutally.

At 3:15 a.m. Friday morning, while Lori and 17 other prisoners were sleeping, more than 30 police in gasmasks and wielding clubs stormed her cellblock, filling the corridor and then the individual cells with tear gas. Lori was overcome by the gas, brutally manhandled, and forcefully removed from her cell. She was carried semiconscious wearing only her sleeping clothes (tee-shirt and shorts), leaving behind all her possessions including her eyeglasses, medicines, and shoes. Other women in the cellblock were gassed, beaten, and threatened with rape. Only one other prisoner was transferred (not to the same prison as Lori).

This move was "conveniently arranged" just before the holiday and if it weren't for a friend who visited the women's prison at Chorrillos on Saturday we would not have learned of the "method" by which she was moved or the fact that her possessions were not moved with her, even though she was taken a mountain where the temperature drops to 40 degrees at night. Peruvian authorities did not inform the US Embassy of the manner in which she was moved and misleadingly insisted her possessions were transported with her.

The Counselor official (who brought Lori's possessions) and Lori's lawyer who visited her on Sunday assured us she is okay except for the cuts and bruises on her arms, wrists, and legs and some lingering effects of the tear gas.

On Sunday, in the presence of her lawyer and a Peruvian prosecutor, Lori filed a "denuncia" against the Peruvian Justice Minister, the director of the Peruvian penal system, the prison director at Santa Monica de Chorrillos Prison in Lima, and other officials for abuse of authority and injury.

In addition to this unprovoked brutality, the Peruvian government once again denied Lori due process. They claim she was transferred for disciplinary reasons. But Peruvian law requires that the prisoner be informed of any infractions and be permitted to respond in defense. This was not done.

Once again, we assume she was moved for political reasons. The move on Friday was followed by media articles again portraying Lori in a highly negative light while not reporting the manner in which she was teargassed, dragged from her cell, denied all her rights, and brought to the mountains. Justice Minister Fernando Olivera, who announced Lori's move to the media, has learned well from the Fujimori-Montesinos years of bashing Lori that this is a useful mechanism or increasing one's popularity in Peru. In addition, he would have had backing from the Fujimori-Montesinos supporters who still yield much influence within the judiciary, military, police, and Peruvian penal systems.

Rhoda will be visiting Lori this weekend and we will report further on her move and her well-being as soon as we learn more.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson