Activist imprisoned in Peru faces second trial
US activist Lori Berenson is fighting for her life. Although the Peruvian Supreme Military Council recently admitted that she was wrongfully convicted of treason and aggravated terrorism and overturned her life sentence, Lori now faces a second civilian trial.
In November 1995 while working in Peru, Lori was arrested and tried before a secret military tribunal presided over by hooded judges. She was never informed of the charges against her or any of the evidence against her and was given no chance to defend herself. She was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison.
Now, after almost five years in inhuman and life-threatening conditions, Lori is being subjected to a second unlawful trial. Retrying her on the same allegations is considered \”double jeopardy\”. Lori has not been given the charges in detail, and was given insufficient time to hire and meet with a lawyer, and insufficient time and means for the lawyer to prepare the defense. In addition, the judge has already taken testimony from witnesses without Lori\’s lawyer present because he had not yet been hired.
After she finally obtained a lawyer, the pre-trial judge and the Peruvian prosecutor interrogated Lori on the record for 14 hours over a three day period. She made it perfectly clear that she was never a member of the MRTA. Her lawyer told the US embassy and the Peruvian press that he is confident that she is innocent of all charges and that she has been imprisoned only for her beliefs.
Meanwhile, Peruvian media and government officials have already declared her guilty and President Fujimori has said she will get at least a 20-year sentence. He picks the judge and there is no jury. The only chance for justice for Lori is for the US government to intervene and secure her release. For more info: The Committee to Free Lori Berenson, 110 Maryland Ave NE #102, Washinton DC 20002. www.freelori.org. (202) 548-8480