News from Lori's Parents

30 June 2001

In this update:

We're back and the struggle continues

After living in Lima since March 13, we returned home on Monday June 25. We held a Press Conference, attended a large rally at the Peruvian Consulate in New York City, and left for Washington DC.

One of our last meetings in Perú was with President-elect Alejandro Toledo. He expressed his sympathy for us as parents but said he could not interfere with the judicial process that is still continuing in the appeals stage.

We are very grateful and honored that Dr. Toledo took the time from his busy schedule to meet with us. We wish him and all Peruvians well as they move toward democracy. Our struggle and Lori's struggle is not with him and not with the Peruvian people it is a struggle for justice which is impossible while the Fujimori-Montesinos anti-terrorism laws are still enforced in a judicial system that must be overhauled.

President Bush and Secretary of State Powell speak up for Lori

We were very pleased to learn that when Dr. Toledo met with officials this past week in Washington DC everyone he met with prominently raised Lori's case. In separate meetings, President Bush urged humanitarian considerations and Secretary of State Powell emphasized the high priority and concern the US government places on this issue. When Dr. Toledo visited Congress, members of both houses urged Lori's release. We learned in particular of conversations of Senator Dodd (CT), and Representatives Gilman (NY) and Lantos (CA) with Dr. Toledo. Other Senators and Representatives have sent letters to Perú expressing their concern.

On Thursday, June 28, Representative Maloney (NY) sponsored a Congressional Briefing on the Lori Berenson Case. Representatives Hinchey (NY), Holt (NJ), Lantos (CA), Scarborough (FL) and Waters (CA) spoke and Representative McGovern (MA) sent a note of support for Lori's release.

Urgent action

A Dear Colleague letter is presently circulating in the House of Representatives calling upon Interim President Valentin Paniagua to pardon Lori before he leaves office on July 28. Please call and urge your Congressional Representative to sign onto this letter immediately. Time is of the essence.

Lori remains strong

We saw Lori on Saturday and Sunday before leaving Perú. Like us, she was disappointed in the verdict but not surprised. In an interview with Rachel Hays of Newsweek Lori said she is guilty only of maintaining her beliefs and ideas, but not for committing any acts.

We are immensely proud of Lori she was a symbol of grace and dignity as she stood before the microphone, politely responding to questions from the court and/or speaking to the nation in a calm, coherent manner for nearly 26 and a half hours over the 33 public sessions. Following the unjust sentence Lori stoically remarked that she is innocent, the sentence is wrong, and that she will file an appeal.

Lori sends a special note of thanks to the ecumenical delegation that visited her and attended the final day of the trial and we are very grateful for their presence and comfort following the unjust verdict. To Father Bill Bicshel, Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rev. James Lawson, and Rev. Dr. William Nottingham many, many thanks!

The trial continues

Lori and her lawyer, Jose Luis Sandoval, are preparing materials for the appeal. It will be filed this week. At some point Mr. Sandoval will be asked to present a 20-minute oral argument, as will the State Prosecutor Mario Cavagnaro. Lori will not appear before the court. We ve heard that this process could take from one to six months before a decision is rendered. We don t hold great hopes because the president of this appeals court has already told the press he thought the trial was fair and that the verdict was just before the arguments on Lori's behalf have been filed!!!

Aftermath of Peruvian earthquake

On Saturday June 23, a major earthquake struck southern Perú, causing over 100 fatalities, thousands of injuries, and damage to over 70 percent of homes and buildings. In the beautiful city of Arequipa, which we visited frequently when Lori was incarcerated for nearly two years in Socabaya Prison, the Cathedral built in the early part of the 17th century and the Santa Catalina monastery functioning since the 16th century were badly damaged. We felt the earthquake in Lima, 500 hundred miles away from the epicenter.

Our hearts go out to the people of southern Perú. Lori hopes the community of nations will generously provide necessary relief.

Capture of Vladimiro Montesinos

With the capture of former spy chief and former CIA asset Vladimiro Montesinos in Venezuela last Sunday, only the disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori remains at large, hiding like a coward in Japan, and wanted for illegal enrichment and human rights violations. Montesinos, who many believe was the real power in the Fujimori government, is to be tried on numerous charges that may range from illegal enrichment to murder.

Thank you

We would like to thank all those who planned or attended the many rallies for Lori around the country, wrote letters to their local newspapers, or in other ways supported Lori and us at this crucial time.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson