News from Lori's Parents

17 May 2001

In this update:

Lori's public trial winds down

In what may be the longest public trial in Peruvian history, the ninth week of hearings ended today with a continuation of Tuesday's session in which official testimony was read into the court record from all witnesses who provided information during the first (investigatory) phase of the trial that occurred between August 28 and early December 2000. Judge Marcos Ibazeta told Reuters that this reading should conclude at the next session on Tuesday May 22 and a trial summation by Prosecutor Carlos Navas, by Special Prosecutor Mario Cavagnaro, and by the Defense Lawyer Jose Luis Sandoval would likely follow next Thursday.

The court is then expected to reconvene a week later for verdict and sentence. Before the verdict and sentence are announced, Lori will be permitted a last opportunity to speak. There could be a break lasting from one to 24 hours between Lori's last words and the actual reading of the verdict and sentence.

Judge Ibazeta expects the verdict and sentencing to occur two weeks from today unless the Appeals Court rules that he must withdraw from Lori's case based on the petition her lawyer filed against him for prejudice two weeks ago. Should that ruling occur, the whole public phase of the trial may have to start over again. To date, the hearings that began on March 20 have had 24 sessions. During this time, Lori has given testimony for 25.5 hours.

Witness testimony supports Lori

One of the accusations against Lori is that she supposedly served food and gave "political classes" to members of the MRTA who moved into the fourth floor of the large house after she moved out in August 1995. However, when testimony was read into the court records today from six MRTA members presently imprisoned throughout Peru who had lived on that fourth floor, they testified that they never met Lori until days after their arrest when they were all held at the DINCOTE anti-terrorism police headquarters in Lima. This confirmed Lori's testimony that she never met them, fed them, or educated them. Lori has testified that she knew three people who had used false names and who, as she learned in DINCOTE, were members of the MRTA. These three testified that Lori never knew their true identities, never knew they were members of the MRTA, was not herself a member of the MRTA, and never collaborated or in any other way helped that organization.

El Salvador leader sends letter supporting Lori's testimony

Congressman Salvador Sanchez Ceran, now a leader of the FMLN political party in the Congressional Assembly of El Salvador, sent to the court a letter attesting to the veracity of Lori's testimony regarding her work during the peace process that ended El Salvador's 12-year civil war and her subsequent work for the development of the democratic process in that country. At that time Lori worked as a personal secretary and assistant to Mr. Sanchez Ceran who then used the name Leonel Gonzalez when he was head of one of the five factions of the FMLN guerrilla movement.

Bishop Gumbleton attends trial and visits Lori

Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton from the Archdiocese of Detroit attended Tuesday's hearing and then went to Chorrillos Prison where he had a private meeting with Lori for nearly three hours. This visit was arranged by the State Department and Bishop Gumbleton confirmed that he was treated very well by the Peruvian prison officials. This is a major change from the treatment he received during his first visit to Lori in September 1999 in Socabaya Prison in Arequipa. During that earlier meeting, a General from the Military Police, on direct orders from President Fujimori, sat in.

Bishop Gumbleton, a founder of Pax Christi, a human rights branch of the Catholic Church, said Lori was in excellent spirits. They discussed both political and ethical issues.

Upcoming actions

As Lori commented in her interviews last week with AP and Reuters, she has prepared herself for the worst. We will continue to hope for the best, but must also be prepared to respond if Lori receives a second unjust prison sentence, again with no evidence presented to prove that she is guilty. Currently, there are several protests being planned in San Francisco, Tucson, Dallas, Miami, Washington [DC], Paterson [NJ], and New York. If you would like to participate in the planning or if you would like to find out about planning a demonstration in your area, please contact the Washington office at Details of the events will be forthcoming at the end of the month.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson