News from Lori's Parents

22 July 2002

In this update:

Notes from Perú

Although Peruvian political leaders seem united in applauding Justice Minister Olivera on his lawsuit against the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of its ruling in favor of Lori, (unscientific) Internet and radio polls show 80% of those who responded (several thousand) do not agree that Perú should be instituting this lawsuit. However, this does not mean that these same people would want Lori freed.

The newspapers are filled with articles supporting the lawsuit and absurdly declaring Lori had full due process. One prominent human rights lawyer stated that he knew the trial was fair because the Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta who presided over Lori's civilian trial told him so! The same newspaper then reported that Judge Ibazeta and Judge Araujo, a second of the three judges at the trial, were not reappointed - in other words, they were fired. Reasons weren't given but there are numerous rumors in the press that Ibazeta was closely connected to Fujimori. In addition, the prosecutor in Lori's civilian trial, Carlos Navas, was also fired.

The decisions for not reappointing the judges and the prosecutors were made by Perú's highest judicial commission. In an interview with Reuters, (now former) Judge Ibazeta said "Definitively, if they haven't reappointed the prosecutor, or me, or another judge who took part in Berenson's trial . then this is giving support to Ms. Berenson's defense that ... the trial was not impartial." (The omissions indicated by "..." are from Reuters). He also stated, "With what moral authority does the Peruvian state going to defend this trial as transparent, clean, impartial?"

You may recall that we reported that Ibazeta had prejudged Lori in the press years before her trial began and used her trial as a platform to run for the position of Peruvian Ombudsman - speaking to the press from his podium soapbox during Lori's trial. Fortunately for Perú, he was not elected to that position.

Most newspaper articles are not in Lori's favor but former Prime Minister Javier Valle Riestra has called again for Lori's release and expulsion, as he did when he served the Fujimori government four years ago. He reminded the Peruvian public that Lori was never charged with any act of violence.

Perú's new Foreign Minister Allan Wagner told the press that Perú would comply with the recommendations of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Lori's case. Of course, given Perú's history of changing cabinet officials, there is certainly no guarantee and very unlikely that Mr. Wagner will be part of the government when the Court completes its deliberations in favor of Lori.

Calls to action

We will be targeting the U.S. Congress when it reconvenes in September. Meanwhile, please keep calling President Bush at the White House hotline (202-456-1111) and writing to President Toledo expressing your outrage and demanding action to secure Lori's release. The Website has sample letters on this.

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson