News from Lori's Parents

30 May 2001

In this update:

Five and a half years in prison and still waiting for justice -- Perú stalls, stalls, stalls

Today marked five and a half years of Lori's wrongful incarceration. The public hearings, now in the 11th week, have been dragging on and the 27th session, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed. We were given less than 24 hours notice and we had to notify US Embassy officials who 'monitor' the proceedings to prevent them from taking an unnecessary trip to Lurigancho Prison. The alleged reason for this postponement was that one of the judges, Carlos Manrique, was involved in another trial in the central jungles of Perú.

Dr. Javier Llaque, the Court Secretary, predicted that the hearings would likely resume on Friday and that all remaining documents and testimony would be read and that Court Prosecutor Navas, Special Government Prosecutor Cavagnaro, and Defense Lawyer Sandoval would each give their concluding remarks. Dr. Llaque then predicted the court would recess for eight working days before Lori makes her final statement and the verdict and possible sentence are announced. He predicted this would occur in mid June. Keep in mind he is the same man who three weeks ago predicted the verdict would be reached at the end of May. We are almost certain that it will be impossible for the court to accomplish all of the above goals on Friday -- should a session be held on that day.

Problems in the Peruvian judicial system

For 23 sessions the three judges always were ready to began the public hearings promptly. For reasons not clear to us, the last three sessions started late and now the session scheduled for May 29 was cancelled. It has been clear from public comments made by the court that the three judges are reluctant to reach a verdict without first learning if the motion by Lori and her lawyer to remove Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta is granted by the higher court on appeal. As stated in our last update, the judges have resorted to reading lots of 'irrelevant testimony' and documents in an effort to slow down the proceedings.

Peruvian law stipulates that the appeals process must be accomplished within 15 days. However, Thursday May 24, the latest expected date on which to rule on the petition to force Chief Judge Ibazeta from Lori's case passed uneventfully. The excuse was that the recent reconstitution of the higher court owing to the dismissals of numerous judges for incompetence and/or corruption slowed down the appeals process.

Peruvian Professor defends Lori

Widely known Peruvian poet Winston Orrillo Ledesma, a professor from Lima's San Marcos University, the oldest functioning institution of higher education in the Western Hemisphere, published a stunning article in defense of Lori in the Peruvian newspaper Liberacion on Monday May 28. It marks the first time a Peruvian scholar inside Perú has publicly given support for Lori and acknowledged complete agreement with her strong critique of lack of justice and opportunity here.

We are grateful to Professor Orrillo for his uplifting commentary. It is an article that could not have been written nor published under the repressive Fujimori-Montesinos dictatorship. The article, in its original Spanish along with its English translation, appears on the website.

The passing of Congressman John Joseph Moakley

All of us who care about human rights and justice mourn the loss of Congressman Joe Moakley of Massachusetts and today Lori was particularly saddened to learn this news.

Congressman Moakley was a truly dedicated public servant. When told a few months ago that his incurable leukemia was advancing rapidly and that if he had unfinished business to tend to or plans to travel that this would be the time to do these things, Congressman Moakley simply said that he was elected by the people of South Boston to work for them in Congress and that is what he wanted to do. He served them and our country until the very end.

When Lori was a student in the Boston/Cambridge area, Congressman Moakley shared Lori's and thousands of others' passion for justice and democracy in El Salvador and over the years he did much to advance freedom and democracy in that country.

On July 27, 2000, immediately before the 106th Congress recessed last summer, Congressman Moakley made the following speech in the House of Representatives: '... It is time this nation stands up for Lori -- it is time for Lori to come home.'

May these words come true and may this wonderful man rest in peace.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson