News from Lori's Parents

24 February 2002

In this update:

Responding to State Department misinformation

The New York Times and other newspapers reported that at the February 19 press briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that Lori Berenson received due process at her civilian trial and that her lawyer "did ensure that his client received all the rights and protections that can be afforded under Peruvian law." A full reading of this briefing shows that Boucher also said: "The new trials corrected some of the most egregious flaws in the military trial and addressed some of the concerns that we have had about her military trial." Clearly the word "some" indicates the trial still had egregious flaws but this did not prevent Mr.Boucher, when questioned about a "fair hearing before the Supreme Court," from concluding "Our [State Department] view has always been that there needs to be due process, and this appears to be following due process."

We have sent a letter to Mr. Boucher reminding him that Lori did not receive due process and that her lawyer has repeatedly pointed out all the ways in which Lori was denied the rights and protections guaranteed under international and Peruvian law. We asked Mr. Boucher to correct his statement which is otherwise detrimental to Lori and to the Peruvian people who need the U.S. to join human rights organizations in demanding reform of a judicial system which was a creature of the corrupt Fujimori-Montesinos regime.

The full text of the State Department briefing and our letter to Mr. Boucher can be found here.

We have also learned that in recent days interested citizens who have called the State Department inquiring about the Lori Berenson case have been told that Lori received due process, as observed by U.S. government officials in attendance at the courtroom phase of the trial. Please note that although the State Department was represented in the courtroom, those representatives were consular officers not trained in the law. On the other hand, a contingent of independent legal and human rights observers, including a U.S. Congressman, also attended the courtroom -- each of whom expressed the lack of fairness in the process and the failure of Perú's judiciary to comply with international standards. Some of their comments can be found on the homepage of the website.

Note that the State Department did not send an observer to the only hearing (open to the public) in the Supreme Court appeal when Dr. Sandoval had but a few minutes to summarize a trial that lasted seven months in the investigative phase and three months in the public courtroom phase.

White House call-in campaign continues

Please continue calling the White House hotline, preferably on Tuesdays -- it is better to have many calls on one day than scattered through the week. But please call on another day if Tuesday is inconvenient.

The White House hotline number is 202-456-1111 (press '0' for operator). After giving a brief summary of Lori's situation ("Lori is a young American woman who has spent six years in jail in Perú....") tell the operator that you know that President Bush will be visiting Perú on March 23 and that you urge him to bring Lori home.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson