News from Lori's Parents

9 June 2001

In this update:

Prosecutors present their final allegations

On Thursday and Friday, Prosecutor Navas and Special Prosecutor Cavagnaro presented their final allegations. They basically repeated the initial charges that Lori collaborated with the MRTA, and was a member of that group. Navas asked for 20 years and a fine of 20,000 soles (about $5,800). He pointed out that because Lori continues to maintain her innocence and refuses to repent, he could not ask for less.

He confirmed our belief that in Perú it is a worse crime, with a higher sentence, to claim innocence that to confess to whatever is being charged. Cavagnaro, on behalf of the state asked for reparations of 20 million soles (about 5.8 million dollars).

But there is no evidence to support the allegations

On Friday, José Sandoval, began his final statements. He discussed the political context of Lori's case starting with US-Peruvian relations at the time of her arrest. He described the Fujimori-Montesinos control of Lori's case and read transcripts from two secretly taped videos wherein Montesinos discusses Lori. In one, in January 1998, days after Lori's petition was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Montesinos proclaimed: "Right now I could tell the Supreme Council Of Military Justice to bring [Ms. Berenson] from Yanamayo. We don't need to consult with anyone". He even described how she could be retried and sentenced to 10 to 15 years.

Mr. Sandoval next gave reference to legal arguments, from Perú and internationally, supporting freedom of ideas. He quoted important international legal opinions that in a democracy one couldn't be put on trial for one's ideas or beliefs. In Lori's trial there have been more than forty questions from prosecutors and judges that pertained solely to her ideas and beliefs.

Lastly, Mr. Sandoval pointed out that all of the evidence referred to by the prosecutors came from the 1995 investigation conducted by the notorious DINCOTE anti-terrorism police. All such evidence must be considered tainted since it was obtained under torture, threats of torture or extreme psychological pressure, or was simply fabricated. Such evidence is not acceptable under Peruvian law. The present open hearing has not produced any legally acceptable evidence to support the charges.

On Monday, he will review all the charges and demonstrate that in each case there are no witnesses or documents that support the allegations. He will ask that Lori be acquitted. The date of the verdict and sentencing is still uncertain. The latest estimate given by Court Secretary Javier Llaque is Thursday, June 21.

Please check the home page and the In The News section of the website for the latest news regarding Lori's case.

Boston Globe editorial supports Lori's freedom

On Thursday, in an editorial entitled Perú's Rising Son, the Boston Globe discussed future US-Peruvian relations and recommended that President Bush help Alejandro Toledo in efforts to locate fugitive Montesinos. The Boston Globe then added: Another fitting gesture this one from Toledo's side would be to free Lori Berenson, the former MIT student who was convicted of treason by one of Fujimori's phony military tribunals, survived five years of cruel prison conditions, and is now being subjected to another civilian trial conducted by the politicized judiciary left in place by Fujimori and Montesinos.

Brandeis women hold successful event in Bethpage

The Bethpage Chapter (Long Island, NY) of the Brandeis University National Women's Committee held a successful event this past Thursday at the Bethpage Library. Since Rhoda had to change her plane ticket at the last minute to stay in Perú, National Organizer Gail Taylor took her place and addressed a crowd of over 200 interested members of the organization. A lively question and answer period followed, and the women were quite supportive and signed postcards addressed to US Ambassador to Perú, John Hamilton. The Queens Chapter of the organization has a meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 21. Autographed books of "Lori: My Daughter Wrongfully Imprisoned in Perú" will be available. Many thanks to the Brandeis women for their support and for organizing such a tremendous effort on Lori's behalf.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson