Tuesday, January 25, 2011

American Lori Berenson's parole upheld in Peru

Mon Jan 24, 2011

LIMA (AFP) – A Peruvian court upheld parole Monday for American Lori Berenson, rejecting an anti-terror prosecutor's bid to have her complete a 20-year prison term for collaborating with leftist guerrillas.

"The November parole granted by Judge Jessica Leon was upheld so Lori Berenson's release is upheld," said her attorney and husband Anibal Apari.

New York-born Berenson, 40, has apologized for having collaborated with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in 1995, and promised to abide by whatever the court was to decide.

Berenson was convicted of participating in a foiled plot by the MRTA to seize control of Peru's congress and take lawmakers hostage.

She allegedly used her credentials as a journalist to gather information used to prepare for the takeover.

While in prison, Berenson gave birth to a son with Apari.

Berenson was returned to prison once before, in May, after being briefly freed on parole.

Her release set off an angry public reaction in Peru, where she is remembered as a defiant foreigner raising her fist and chanting leftist slogans during her conviction and sentence in 1995. The tirade was broadcast on television.

Peruvian law requires Berenson to live in Lima for the five remaining years of her sentence.

The MRTA has since disintegrated, with most of its members either dead or in prison following a fierce government crackdown on leftist guerrilla groups in the 1990s under then president Alberto Fujimori.

It gained notoriety for taking over the Japanese ambassador's Lima residence in December 1996, taking 72 hostages. The standoff lasted four months until a raid that left 14 rebels and one hostage dead.

MRTA was less well known than the Shining Path, another guerrilla group that has largely been eliminated but recently marked its 30th anniversary.

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