News from Lori's Parents

21 January 2002

In this update:

Lori's court appeal finally to be heard

After "sitting in limbo" for seven months, Lori's appeal to the Peruvian Supreme Appeals Court will be heard Tuesday morning. Dr. Sandoval will have but five minutes to present Lori's defense to the five-member court panel. The prosecutor will have five minutes to argue why the charges of collaboration should be upgraded to active participation in a terrorist group. Dr. Sandoval will then get an opportunity to make one very brief remark. The judges will then consider the oral hearing and are expected to examine all the files from the court case before deciding whether to uphold the conviction, change the conviction as requested by the prosecutor, ask for Lori's release as requested by Dr. Sandoval, reduce her sentence, or say she must face another trial. The court cannot raise the sentence above 20 years.

Although, by Peruvian law, the appeal was to be completed 15 days after sentencing, seven months already have passed since the Special Civilian Terrorism Court convicted Lori of collaboration and sentenced her to 20 years last June 20. We hope that the appeal will be looked at carefully and that the court will conclude, as we know, that Lori is innocent of the charges. However, our long experience with the Peruvian justice system leaves us believing this won't happen.

Rumors from Lima indicate a decision by the court is expected from one to 15 days. However, since this is Perú, the decision could be put off for months!

Lori concerned for mounting human rights abuses in Perú

Much to our and Lori's disappointment it is clear that conditions in Peruvian prisons have substantially worsened these past few weeks. In additition to the way Lori and Nancy Gilvonio were moved from Chorrillos Prison on December 21, with the gassing, beatings, and sexual abuse that the Peruvian government has hidden from its public, we now have learned that recently other political prisoners, and even their families, have been beaten and abused during peaceful protests. And throughout the country, workers, students, and others have faced similar physical abuse when peacefully expressing dissent.

Lori and we don't understand the current lack of tolerance for protest and dissent since these are fundamental rights protected by democratic governments. We hope that the Peruvian authorities will look into these recent abuses and take corrective action before the situation further deteriorates.

Mark returns from visiting Lori in Cajamarca and her former cellmates in Lima

Mark visited Lori this past weekend in Huacariz Prison in the northern Peruvian highlands of Cajamarca. She was in good spirits and busy making greeting cards with a thread design she has been perfecting for a few years. Mark had the opportunity to visit Lori's cell for the first time since her arrest and could not believe how "spartan" the conditions are. The all concrete cell is designed for one person and is very small. Again, the cell has no heat and there is only cold water.

Lori was very preoccupied with the violence that the government has used against those protesting peacefully and of the crackdown against fellow political prisoners. She has reason to be. Mark visited the women in the Santa Monica de Chorrillos Prison in Lima on Sunday following his visit with Lori in Cajamarca. Mark was still able to see the bruises (fading black and blue marks and lumps) on the arms and legs of some of the women. These were still evident 1 month after the Dec. 21 incident in which Lori and Nancy Gilvonio were taken from Lima. The Peruvian government insists this process was a "normal" police effort.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson