News from Lori's Parents
2 May 2001
In this update:
Lori's lawyer asks judge to step down
At the start of today's hearing, Lori's lawyer, Jose Sandoval, formally requested that Judge Marcos Ibazeta recuse himself from these proceedings. This was based on three points:
- The government recently produced a video from 1998 in which Fujimori's spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos describes the judge as someone in whom he had confidence, that is, he was a good team member. He also represented the Fujimori government at international meetings and hearings. These all bring to question Ibazeta's independence of the executive branch.
- In July 1999, in remarks made to two major Peruvian newspapers, Expreso and La Republica, Marcos Ibazeta showed that already he had prejudged Lori. When he was told that she had filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, even though he admitted he did not know the 'details,' he repeatedly described her petition as 'irrational' and 'escaping the rational.' He referred to Lori as a 'terrorist' and said she was a member of the 'bureau' or highest governing body of the MRTA, although she was never charged as such.
- During the hearings Judge Ibazeta has improperly assumed the role of prosecutor by calling his own witnesses -- a function reserved for the prosecutor in Peru.
Dr. Sandoval cited sections of the Peruvian constitution and various legal texts to support his motion.
After some feeble responses from the prosecutor about casting dispersions on a well- respected judge and from the procurador about inappropriateness of the timing, the hearing adjourned, to be resumed on Friday morning. At that time we should know whether or not the judge will step down.
Ever since we learned in the end of August 2000 that Lori would be retried, we have been concerned about the ability to receive a fair trial in the Peruvian civilian terrorism courts. We knew that for years the U.S. Department of State Human Rights Reports said that trials on terrorism charges in the Peruvian civilian courts do not meet international standards of openness, fairness and due process -- a statement that was once again repeated in the Human Rights Report of March 2001. Unlike trials in the past, Lori's trial has been open to the public and the press, but it has certainly failed to meet international standards of fairness and due process.
We learned of the July 1999 Expreso and La Republica articles with Ibazeta's prejudgments in March of this year. Before the open hearings began, one of Lori's U.S. attorneys brought this matter to the attention of the judge. When he failed to withdraw from the case, the matter was brought to the attention of the Inter- American Commission and we served Judge Ibazeta a copy of the complaint. All of this occurred before the public phase of Lori's trial commenced on March 20.
As Lori's parents we have found it painful to sit in the courtroom and listen to Judge Iazeta's attacks on Lori. Although he is supposed to remain neutral and make decisions as to guilt or innocence at the conclusion of the trial, Judge Ibazeta has already expressed conclusive remarks in his questioning of Lori with statements such as 'it is obviously impossible to believe... .'
Although we were surprised at the timing of this motion to seek the judge's withdrawal, we believe it is absolutely the correct action.
For more information
Several legal experts have attended the hearings and reported their observations. Two reports can be found at www.freelori.org, one by Anna Marie Gallagher, Professor of Law, Georgetown University and one by Mark Mitchell, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter.