Bush Raises Berenson Case with Peru's Toledo

Reuters -- 26 June 2001

WASHINGTON - President Bush asked Peru's president-elect on Tuesday to weigh humanitarian factors in the case of Lori Berenson, a U.S. citizen sentenced to 20 years in jail for collaborating with Marxist rebels.

``The president raised the case of Lori Berenson and asked that, in addition to the rule of law, humanitarian factors be taken into consideration in a final resolution of her case,'' U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman told reporters after a roughly 15-minute meeting between Bush and Peruvian President-elect Alejandro Toledo.

Countryman said she did now know how Toledo had reacted to Bush's request.

Toledo, who has criticized former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for interfering with the judiciary, has previously said that Berenson's case was entirely up to the Peruvian courts and he would not intervene.

The 31-year-old New Yorker, who has spent 5-1/2 years in Peruvian prisons. was convicted last week in a second trial of being a willing collaborator with an armed Marxist guerrilla group in Peru and sentenced to spend 15 more years in prison.