News from Lori's Parents

18 February 2002

In this update:

Perú Supreme Court upholds 20-year sentence

After months of delay, Perú's highest appeals court upheld the conviction and 20-year sentence imposed against Lori last June 20. The five-judge panel turned down her appeal that she was innocent of all charges and was imprisoned solely for her beliefs. Dr. Sandoval, Lori's lawyer, had argued that during the course of the civilian trial that commenced on August 28, 2000 there were numerous violations in fundamental due process and that no evidence was presented nor did any witness testify that would warrant a conviction. Dr. Sandoval said that the judges relied extensively on the tainted evidence taken from other prisoners under duress and threats of torture during the original 1995-6 military tribunals. Dr. Sandoval had also pointed out that Chief Judge Ibazeta had prejudiced Lori two years earlier but refused to recuse himself from the case and that the media, now known to be corrupted by the discredited Fujimori-Montesinos regime, had built up a strong negative public image of Lori that was impossible for her to overcome and that there was never one moment where she was presumed innocent requiring the State to prove guilt.

Press statement by Rhoda and Mark Berenson

We are not surprised at the decision by the Peruvian Supreme Court and are prepared to continue our efforts to bring Lori home. We remain convinced of Lori's innocence and the decision of the Supreme Court today only indicates that the Peruvian judiciary is still in need of reform. The anti-terrorism laws under which Lori was convicted have been universally condemned and need to be changed. Lori is but one of hundreds who wrongfully remain in Peruvian prisons because of this injustice.

As to Lori's future, we remain optimistic. We believe in the strength of the rule of law and we expect Lori to be released. First, we will call upon President George W. Bush to right this wrong, to use his power under U.S.C. 22, Section 1732 and come to the rescue of a U.S. citizen who has been wrongfully held in a foreign country. Second, we hope that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, which has had Lori's case under review for four years and which has already publicly condemned the Peruvian laws under which she was tried, will now be ready to call for Lori's release. And third, we call upon President Alejandro Toledo to pardon Lori. She was a victim of the Fujimori-Montesinos dictatorship that used her as a political pawn for their personal gains. Given that Lori has already been held for more than six years under extremely harsh conditions that have caused permanent damage to her health, we ask him to pardon her immediately.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson