News from Lori's Parents

06 May 2001

In this update:

"Refusal of recusal" Court keeps judge on technicality

When the court adjourned on Wednesday following the motion by Lori's lawyer Jose Sandoval that Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta recuse himself, the three surprised judges, court prosecutor and government prosecutor all remained together joking, shaking hands, hugging and kissing one another. Imagine such a scene in a US courtroom!

On Friday, Judge Araujo acted as Chief Judge for the proceedings. Despite continued attempts by Judge Araujo to prevent him from speaking, Dr. Sandoval was able to introduce further evidence of Judge Ibazeta's direct work for the corrupt former Fujimori-Montesinos government. He introduced a document from the Organization of American States from February 25, 1998 that showed on that date Judge Ibazeta represented the Peruvian government at a hearing before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington, DC. He spoke on "the independence and autonomy of the Peruvian Judiciary System." In 1998 it was well known to Peruvians and the international community, and documented in the U.S. State Department Human Rights reports, that the courts were totally in the control of Montesinos and Fujimori.

Following a lengthy break, the court reconvened and ruled that the motion made by Dr. Sandoval was inadmissible and could not be considered because Peruvian law stipulates that recusal motions must be made at least three days before the oral hearings commence. Dr. Sandoval argued that both the Peruvian Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights, which call for the accused to receive a fair trial before an independent and impartial judge, override this three-day rule of the Peruvian criminal code. Any time significant bias is discovered, the right to a fair trial demands a right to recuse. Judges Araujo and Manrique stuck to their ruling that the motion was "untimely"and ordered that the trial continue with Judge Ibazeta remaining as Chief Judge. The motion will now be appealed to a higher court and a decision should be rendered in fifteen days more or less.

Because the recusal motion was declared inadmissible, Judge Ibazeta was not permitted to refute the arguments in the motion. Nevertheless, he took the microphone and gave a 20-minute angry harangue about how the motion defamed his reputation and character. He went on to point out that on another secret video Mr. Montesinos refers to him as a "traitor" (which, of course, implies that he was a puppet of the Fujimori-Montesinos regime and later disagreed on some issue). He spent most of the 20 minutes trying to disassociate himself from Montesinos.

He did not deny having made prejudicial statements against Lori (reported in quotes in two Peruvian newspapers on July 3, 1999) and he failed to address the issue that he improperly assumed the role of prosecutor in Lori's trial. As to the new evidence presented against him earlier that morning, Judge Ibazeta said that he was representing Perú at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission because of his "expertise." Given the above named title of his presentation, we wonder what that expertise really is.

Playing to the cameras and to Peruvian nationalism, he said that Ramsey Clark tried to "pressure" him into withdrawing from the public hearings days before they began on March 20. Ramsey did meet with Ibazeta and raised the issue of the prejudicial remarks he made in 1999. Ramsey believed that if Ibazeta was an ethical man he would withdraw from the case. Ramsey never pressured him. In fact he essentially offered him a quiet way out. But Ibazeta wanted to preside over the public hearings because it was high profile and he was hoping to stay in the limelight and be elected Ombudsman the neutral "Defender of the People." On Thursday the Peruvian Congress once more attempted to fill that position but to no avail. Each candidate is voted on individually and to be elected, a candidate must receive 80 votes of support from the 120 Congressional representatives. Judge Ibazeta received 32 votes for, 48 against, and there were 40 abstentions or absences. None of the five candidates reached 80 favorable votes and Judge Ibazeta had the most negative votes. There will be another vote next week.

The hearings were adjourned until Monday May 7. After the hearing, Judge Araujo refused to allow Dr. Sandoval to speak to Lori before her helicopter trip to Chorrillos Prison.

Perú withdraws permission for NBC to interview Lori

Arrangements had been made for Lori to be interviewed on May 5 for the NBC Today Show and for Dateline. On May 2 the Peruvian government withdrew its permission. It is obvious that the Peruvian government is afraid to give Lori access to the media at this time. Last month they permitted Panorama, a major Peruvian television program to interview Lori but now they don't want her to be able to speak to her supporters in the U.S. and around the world.

Just two weeks ago, Judge Ibazeta was quoted in an interview stating that he wanted the trial to be completely open so that everyone following the trial on television, radio or in the print media would form the same conclusions as did the judges in the courtroom. For seven weeks, his decision for "openness" created a circus-like atmosphere in the courtroom. Now, however, Perú wants to stifle Lori and prevent the media from hearing her side.

Saturday morning, we substituted for Lori and interviewed with Matt Lauer of the NBC Today Show outside the Chorrillos prison. The program is expected to air on Monday morning.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson