Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lori Berenson Granted Parole in Peru

Lori and Salvador are Granted Parole!

Dear Friends and Supporters of Lori,

On May 25, 2010 a Peruvian judge, after carefully studying Lori's
application for what in Peru is termed "conditional liberty"
(parole), determined that Lori has earned her freedom. Lori and her
son Salvador will be leaving prison in a few days and moving to an
apartment in Lima.

Parole requires individuals to live within the city in which they
were incarcerated (Lima, in Lori's case) - we do not know if there
are exceptions for foreigners or whether Lori will be permitted to
travel to the US while on parole. Parole in Peru is based on good
behavior, work and study. In September 2009 Lori officially filed
her application under a Peruvian law which established eligibility
after serving 75% of her 20-sentence, less time off for work and study.

Lori appeared before the judge in court on Monday, May 17th, for a
hearing, defended by her husband, Anibal Apari Sanchez, a Lima lawyer
and candidate for Mayor of Villa El Salvador, a suburb of Lima with
over a half million inhabitants. Lori will be a single mom - Anibal
and Lori are legally separated but remain friends and both share
concerns for Salvador's proper upbringing.

Salvador, now an active one-year old boy, will certainly enjoy the
opportunity to run around outside the confines of the prison. He is
learning both English and Spanish but babbles continuously in
"unknown tongue." He is a very happy child and loves to be with people.

We want to express our gratitude to all of you for your expressions
of love and support all these years. You have truly sustained us
through some very dark hours and the dawn of a new sunny day has arrived.

With appreciation, always.

Rhoda and Mark B.

English Website: www.freelori.org
Spanish Website: www.lorilibre.org

Jailed U.S. citizen Berenson gets parole in Peru

Garcia and Teresa Cespedes

Tue May 25, 2010 7:29pm EDT

LIMA (Reuters) - A Peruvian court granted parole on Tuesday to Lori
Berenson, a U.S. citizen who served 15 years of a 20-year prison
sentence in Peru for aiding leftist guerrillas during the dark days
of the country's civil war.

She was imprisoned in 1995 after being pulled off a bus in Lima and
charged with being a leader of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
or MRTA, a leftist insurgency active in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.

Her family always maintained that she was unfairly convicted and
never took up arms during the period of social unrest in the Andean nation.

Lawyers for the government said they would appeal, though she is
expected to be released by Wednesday following the ruling by Judge
Jessica Leon.

President Alan Garcia will visit President Barack Obama at the White
House in the coming days, although neither president has commented on
the case. Garcia's justice ministry has said it wants to deport
Berenson, but the court said she must check in with authorities once
a month in Peru, where she will work as a translator while pursuing a
dream of opening a bakery.

Wrapped in a shawl with her brown hair pulled back in a long braid, a
quiet Berenson smiled and hugged her husband after court officials
announced the decision at a prison in the Chorillos neighborhood of
Lima, where she has been living with her infant son.

"We are thrilled and so pleased that the Peruvian judge ruled that
Lori has earned her conditional liberty, as they call it in Peru,"
her mother, Rhoda Berenson, said by phone from New York. "She and her
baby can now start a new life together."

"This decision is going to be criticized, but it was well founded,"
said her husband, Anibal Apari Sanchez, a former MRTA member who is a
lawyer and represented her at the hearing. "It's legally impossible
for her to be deported."

Berenson married Apari in 2003. Inmates in Peru are allowed conjugal
visits, though court officials said the couple's romantic
relationship has ended.


Berenson, 40, a New Yorker who studied at the elite Massachusetts
Institute of Technology before moving to Latin America to work as a
human rights activist, won her release a year after giving birth to a
baby boy, Salvador.

Berenson became eligible for parole this year after serving most of
her sentence.

Shortly after she was arrested, an anonymous military court jailed
her for life. But under pressure from the United States, a civilian
court retried her and sentenced her to 20 years.

Berenson spent many years in a grim prison high in the Andes
mountains. She was transferred in early 2009 to the capital Lima to
get healthcare during her pregnancy.

At the time of her arrest, Berenson was with the wife of Nestor
Cerpa, who in 1996 led a group of MRTA rebels that took hundreds of
diplomats and government officials hostage at the
http://www.reuters.com/places/japan>Japanese ambassador's house in Lima.

The crisis dragged on for months until then-president Alberto
Fujimori sent in commandos who had dug tunnels underneath the house.
They killed more than a dozen insurgents in a surprise raid.

The MRTA was a small rebel group compared to the Maoist Shining Path,
which launched a brutal war against the state in 1980. Over the
subsequent two decades nearly 30,000 people died in a bloody civil war.

(Additional reporting by
Wade and Marco Aquino; Editing by
Barbara and

No comments: