Trial won't hurt U.S. ties, Peru chief says

Houston Chronicle News Services -- 31 January 1996

LIMA, Peru -- The life sentence handed down to an American woman for aiding leftist guerrillas shouldn't have any affect on U.S.-Peruvian relations, President Alberto Fujimori said Wednesday.

His statement came a day after a military tribunal upheld the prison sentence against New Yorker Lori Berenson, 26, who was convicted of treason Jan. 11 for helping rebels plan the kidnappings of congressmen.

"We are all equal before the law,"Fujimori said. "There is no distinction in treatment or judgment between Peruvians or Americans."

The U.S. State Department Wednesday repeated its objection to Berenson's secret military trial.

"The U.S. government continues to support the review of this case by the civilian tribunals where a greater degree of due process is available," the State Department said in a statement released by the embassy.

Berenson's lawyer has appealed the sentence to the military's Supreme Council, which has the last say. Berenson was arrested Nov. 30, 1995, and charged with belonging to the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a pro-Cuba leftist group.