Year: 2021

Liberation of lori berenson

Liberation of lori berenson

Lori Berenson is a New York-born social activist whose adult life was spent in Central and South America.

Lori Berenson firmly believes in the need to work for a better world for all, for a world in which the fundamental rights of all are respected.

His love for Latin American countries and cultures goes beyond an interest in their customs or folklore. She believes that the cultural richness of these countries should not be seen only from the perspective of a tour guide but that they should be taken into account in the construction of a new and better society that respects the national pride and dignity of all peoples that, for centuries , they have been conquered.

Who is Lori Berenson?

Lori Berenson has participated in research work, as well as secretarial, translation, writing and editorial work. At the time of his arrest, he was writing articles for two progressive magazines in the United States.

On November 30, 1995, Lori Berenson was arrested on a public bus in downtown Lima, accused of leading an insurgent organization, the MRTA. A “faceless” (hooded) court, using counterterrorism legislation enacted during a state of emergency, sentenced her to life in prison for “treason.” Four and a half years later Due to international pressure, his sentence was revoked and he was rejudged by a civil court under the same anti-terrorism legislation. He is currently serving a 20-year sentence for collaboration with terrorism.

In April 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declared that Lori Berenson had been treated twice for illegal antiterrorism laws that did not meet international standards and that violated her right to due process. The Commission further stated that Peru did not show evidence in its conviction of Lori Berenson and ruled that her rights be fully restored and that Peru must completely amend the illegal antiterrorist laws.

Since Peru refused to comply with the Commission’s recommendations, the Commission took the case of Lori Berenson, who questions the antiterrorist legislation, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it is now awaiting its ruling.

Lori Berenson continues to express, from prison, her concern for social justice and human rights. He has repeatedly pointed out that lawsuits that deny due process and wrongful convictions under the illegal antiterrorist laws cited above are very common in Peru, and that thousands of people have been affected. In this way, your case is far from exceptional.

In the case of Lori Berenson, there were numerous abuses of due process and human rights and irregularities, which occurred during her detention, her two trials and imprisonment. Lori Berenson was subjected to abusive treatment, described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading” by various human rights organizations, but the physical and psychological abuse suffered by many others has been worse.

As in the case of Lori Berenson, thousands of people convicted of these unjust anti-terror laws were and are innocent of the charges, or were sentenced to disproportionately high penalties. What is worse, almost all of them have been brutally mistreated or savagely tortured during their detention, or even in prisons. The abuse has not been directed only to try to obtain information or to force them to incriminate themselves, but also as part of a state policy of hatred and revenge against the insurgents. Lori Berenson has specifically asked that her website highlight that this is an effort to give due respect and dignify the voices and human rights of those people.

Lori in Central America and Peru

Lori’s desire to travel to Central America was more than just interest or curiosity. At that time, a brutal three-decade civil war had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, not to mention the thousands of civilians who died in the civil wars in El Salvador, Honduras, transcendental meditation scotland and Nicaragua.

The unfair distribution of land and wealth, and the horrors she had seen in the civil war convinced her to devote her time to working with the Salvadoran people. Lori worked with CISPES- The Committee of Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

In 1990, Lori moved to Nicaragua to work with the Salvadoran refugee community displaced by the war. Lori helped religious and human rights groups with projects to find the missing and help those seeking political asylum. During the peace process, Lori collaborated as a secretary and translator for Salvador Sánchez Ceren, a leader of the FMLN. Following the peace accords in January 1992, which ended the twelve-year civil war, Lori returned with the refugee community to El Salvador and lived in San Salvador. She continued her work with the FMLN party and served as an observer during the national elections.

Lori traveled to Peru in November 1994. Her interest was in the complex political situation that Peru was experiencing at that time. In April 1992, Peru had witnessed a “self-coup” and political destabilization when President Alberto Fujimori sought to impose peace and order on the chaotic nation with tough leadership and repressive anti-terrorism laws. Lori traveled the country knowing its culture and its people,

After five years of experience in Latin America, Lori was able to obtain contracts from two US publications, “Modern Times” and “Third World Viewpoint”, to work as a freelance journalist. At the time of her arrest, she was conducting an investigation into the effects of poverty on Peruvian women. He also wrote a report on the decentralization process that Peru was going through in those days.

Selected Violations of Lori Berenson’s Rights in the Civil Trial

Here is an outline of some selected violations of Lori’s rights in the civil trial

  • Violation of the right not to be tried twice for the same facts The new process violated this international principle and Peruvian law, since Lori was reprocessed on the same facts already reviewed and determined as insufficient to sustain a conviction in the military court. The civil trial was based on the same witnesses and evidence used by the military court to reach its verdict in January 1996 tm in scotland, a verdict that was overturned by the Peruvian Supreme Council of Military Justice in August 2000.
  • Violation of the right to presumption of innocence as guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights and Peruvian law.
    The public phase of the trial began with Lori locked in a cage guarded by four soldiers. Only after his protest was he allowed to move out of the cage. Throughout the trial the Peruvian press published images of her behind bars and referred to her as an MRTA terrorist, presuming her guilt. Before the trial had even begun, government officials, members of the Peruvian Congress, judges and other court officials, members of the Peruvian human rights community, political analysts, and media commentators declared their “guilt.” A paradigmatic case is that of Ronald Gamarra, a prominent human rights lawyer, who told the New York Times, on March 19, 2001, the day before the public hearing will begin, that “our assessment is that she deserves a fair and correct trial, but that in a free court she would be condemned.” And in an interview with the newspaper El País, on April 22, 2001, in full trial, Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta said that the verdict “will depend on whether she convinces us of her story,” stating that he expected Lori to prove her innocence. instead of the prosecution proving guilty.
  • Violations of the right to a fair trial for the use of coerced, insubstantial and contaminated evidence.
    The charges against Lori were based almost exclusively on tainted evidence from military court files conducted in December 1995, despite the fact that each of the witnesses retracted that testimony during the civil proceeding, citing coercion, threats of torture. and / or absence of legal representation when they presented them to the military court. Many documents accepted as evidence were seized, cataloged and kept by the Peruvian antiterrorist police days after Lori’s arrest and were not authenticated or relevant to the charges.
  • Violations of the right to a fair trial with due process guaranteed by an impartial, independent and competent court.
    The Peruvian judicial system was universally criticized during the Fujimori administration for its lack of independence. Lori’s trial began under this administration with judges and prosecutors during the investigative phase who were seized by Fujimori / Montesinos and continued after Fujimori fled the country under the command of officials designated during his administration. In October 2001, four months after his conviction, the New York Times reported that Justice Minister Olivera, when talking to Montesino, who had been in prison for almost four months, said that “he still controls judges.” Videos secretly filmed by Montesinos in 1988 link the Chief Judge in Lori’s trial, Marcos Ibazeta, with dishonest conduct in the Fujimori government. What’s more, Jorge Ibazeta prejudiced Lori in July 1999 in press interviews when, despite admitting that he did not know the “details”, he described her petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as “irrational.” He referred to her as a “terrorist” and said she was a member of the MRTA “bureau” or high command even though she was never charged for it. Judge Ibazeta was confronted with this act of prejudice but refused to withdraw from the case. Additionally, while conducting the public trial, Judge Ibazeta was also one of the main candidates for the prestigious position of Ombudsman of the Peruvian government. This candidacy was to be voted on in Congress, many of whose members had declared that Lori was guilty. He used the case to campaign for that position, demonstrating its strong position against terrorism with great prominence before the press. Several times he described violent acts committed by the MRTA – an act that occurred decades ago and not associated with Lori or this case – clearly to prejudice public opinion. Long before all the evidence was presented and conclusions could have been drawn, he told Lori: “You had come to Peru to be the ‘sun’ around which the MRTA revolved.” This and other statements suggesting guilt were widely picked up by the press. Long before all the evidence was presented and conclusions could have been drawn, he told Lori: “You had come to Peru to be the ‘sun’ around which the MRTA revolved.” This and other statements suggesting guilt were widely picked up by the press. Long before all the evidence was presented and conclusions could have been drawn, he told Lori: “You had come to Peru to be the ‘sun’ around which the MRTA revolved.” This and other statements suggesting guilt were widely picked up by the press.
    The other two judges were also guilty of reaching conclusions before the trial was over. At the beginning of the public phase, Judge Araujo said: local tmscotland centres “We consider that you have been the financier of the MRTA.” This produced headlines despite the fact that it was none of the charges against Lori and that she was never mentioned again. Judge Manrique, after an extremely harsh interrogation, declared that Lori may not have been a leader of the MRTA but that she was a militant, thus concluding that she was guilty of this charge before even hearing all the evidence or any of the witnesses.
Montesinos admitted excesses of members of the Armed Forces

Montesinos admitted excesses of members of the Armed Forces

Washington. In a desperate attempt to gain the support of the US ambassador, former adviser Vladimiro Montesinos admitted that during 1999 “some excesses” had been committed by members of the Armed Forces, although he did not elaborate.

According to a new batch of documents declassified by the State Department, the former adviser acknowledged that “many of the abuses had been committed by members of the Army Intelligence Service (SIE), but not by the personnel of the National Intelligence Service (SIN ) “, which he controlled.

According to the report sent to Washington by the United States Embassy in Lima, Montesinos assured that “the situation had changed positively in the SIE.” The documents do not record any observation or questioning that has been formulated by US
diplomats on specific cases, such as the massacre in Barrios Altos or the torture of former intelligence agent Leonor La Rosa.

It can also be noted that during the meeting between Montesinos and John Hamilton no major references were made to President Fujimori or to the high command of the military.

Berenson case

In the same documents the Berenson Case is discussed. In them, the possibility of a civil trial for the emerretista Lori Berenson is seen and that she can then serve her sentence in a United States prison.

Montesinos and the former US ambassador in Lima addressed this thorny issue in secret on September 17, 1999. At the meeting, Montesinos assured that “the government of former President Alberto Fujimori planned to resolve the Berenson Case by December 1999.” He added that there was the possibility that in the civil jurisdiction the MRE would be sentenced to 15 or 20 years and that the final ruling would necessarily have to be awaited.

However, he pointed out that after hearing the sentence in the civil court, “Lori Berenson Mejía could return to the United States under a bilateral agreement that supports the exchange of sentenced persons” so that they can serve their sentences in their country of origin.

This information, which emerges from the new documents declassified by the State Department, is different from that recently delivered to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. According to the documents, the meeting was held at the residence of the US ambassador, with the participation of other federal officials, who also posed questions related to the Berenson Case.

After Montesinos’ offers, Hamilton sent a reserved report to Washington in which he records the meeting and argues the need to continue consulting on the subject, as well as the advisability of exchanging opinions with other American interlocutors.

Hamilton informed his superiors at the State Department that the former adviser seemed “eager” to be accepted as a “respectable company.”

The “Doc” proposal was raised when the democratic sectors and the independent press denounced not only human rights violations in Peru, but also a conspiracy to perpetrate electoral fraud during the 2000 presidential elections.

There is a lawsuit against him. Peru

Despite being tried again, and under a democratic government, in September of last year the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) sued Peru for the case of Lori Berenson in order that she be subjected to a trial again. The information arrived on the 6th of that month and a 30-day period was established for the Peruvian State to present an ad hoc judge as part of the court. The responsibility fell on Juan Monroy Gálvez, proposed by the Ministry of Justice.

According to the lawsuit, the Peruvian State violated five articles of the American Convention on Human Rights during the civil trial held in 2001, the penalty of which – 20 years in prison – was ratified by the Supreme Court.

Berenson was captured in late November 1995 at an MRTA operations center in Surco. During her public presentation at La Dincote, the woman shouted her support for the armed group. Shortly after, she was sentenced in the military jurisdiction, by a faceless court, to life imprisonment. On June 19, 2001, the United States Ambassador, John Hamilton, asked about a possible exchange of his compatriot with Manuel Áivar Marca, detained in At that time in Miami, he replied that both were separate cases and that there was no responsibility in this regard.

The Human Rights Court accepted Lori's case for review

The Human Rights Court accepted Lori’s case for review

On September 6, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica notified the parties involved that it had admitted the review of the petition filed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in favor of Lori against the government of the Peru. In an outrage to the government of Peru, the Court refused to treat as a separate case, Peru’s counter-petition against the Commission’s recommendations in favor of Lori. Peru must now convince the Court that the Commission’s recommendation was incorrect.

Given the previous judgments of the Court in similar cases and the detailed and severe condemnation of the Commission to the judicial proceedings in the case of Lori, we hope that the government of Peru realizes the fruitlessness of a costly litigation and accepts the recommendations of the Commission now, and don’t insist that Lori have to endure years of incarceration pending the judgment of the Court.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issues a favorable report

Lori has exhausted her judicial options in Peru. In 1998 Lori petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Inter-American Commission is made up of a respectable group of human rights legal arbitrators from seven countries that represent the Organization of American States. Following Bush’s historic visit to Lima on March 23, 2002, the position of the United States government has been that both countries give serious consideration to the Commission’s decisions and recommendations. Lori agrees with this point of view as well as her parents.

On April 3, 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved a report on the merits in which it concludes:

“That the Peruvian State is responsible for the violation of the right to judicial guarantees, personal integrity and the right concerning the principle of legality enshrined (…) in the American Convention to the detriment of Lori Berenson”

In July 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed a complaint with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the Republic of Peru as a consequence of the human rights violations of Lori Berenson that occurred in the context of both trials. In this application, the Commission requests that the Court:

“Determine the international responsibility of the Peruvian State for the violations committed in the processes to which Mrs. Berenson was subjected both in the military jurisdiction and in the ordinary jurisdiction, as well as for the inhumane conditions of detention to which she was subjected in the prison of Yanamayo (…) to conclude and declare that the Peruvian State has an international obligation to make reparation to Lori Berenson for the violations of her human rights committed by the Peruvian State through its agents. To this end, the Peruvian State must, in accordance with the provisions of its domestic law, immediately adopt all the necessary measures to stop the violations of the human rights of Mrs. Lori Berenson specified in this application, and specifically,
Finally, the Commission requests the honorable Court to order the illustrious Peruvian State to adopt the necessary measures to reform Decree Laws 25475 and 25659 in order to make them compatible with the American Convention on Human Rights. “

Internet poll shows Peruvians willing to accept Lori’s release

In a two-day online poll conducted September 14-15 by Peru’s largest circulation daily El Comercio (which has always been mistakenly critical of Lori), participants overwhelmingly indicated that they would be willing to accept a judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requesting the release of Lori. With 31,258 people voting online, 21,037 (67.3%) would accept a decision to release Lori, 5,895 (18.9%) would not, and 4,326 (13.8%) were undecided.

Considering that this newspaper and its audience on the Internet are considered moderately conservative, wealthy, and educated, we are satisfied with these results and we believe that support for Lori in other socio-economic strata would be even higher.

History of Lori Berenson's arrest and detention

History of Lori Berenson’s arrest and detention

The Peruvian military antiterrorist police arrested Lori in the late afternoon of November 30, 1995 on a bus in downtown Lima. He had just left Congress where he was conducting research for articles he was preparing for the American magazines, “Modern Times” and “Third World Viewpoint.” Until August 28, 2000, when the Supreme Court of Military Justice overturned her sentence and conviction, Lori had been serving a life sentence without the option of parole in Peru’s terribly harsh maximum security prisons. She was originally charged with “treason,” according to accusations of a leadership role in the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

After the annulment of her sentence, Lori was tried again in civil jurisdiction and sentenced to 20 years for alleged collaboration with the MRTA.

Lori never had anything like a process. She was never even formally notified of the charges against her. From 1992 to 1997, people accused of treason or terrorism in Peru were convicted by judges with their faces concealed. In military courts, judges do not need to have any legal training. The military courts had a 97% conviction rate, and a host of internationally unacceptable practices.

Lori always maintained that she is innocent of the charges issued. She has said that she was never a member, least of all a leader of the MRTA. She has also made it clear that she could never get involved in terrorist acts.

Arrest, Interrogation, press presentation, and “trial.”

November 1995: the Arrest

  • As night fell on November 30, 1995, Lori was forcibly removed from a public bus in Lima, Peru after attending a session of the Peruvian Congress. He was gathering information for articles he wrote for two North American publications: Modern Times and Third World Viewpoint.
  • Later that night, there was a shooting in Lima’s affluent La Molina Vieja neighborhood. 19 suspected members of the MRTA were arrested. The target was a house where the Peruvian antiterrorist police (DINCOTE) found weapons and ammunition. The MRTA was accused of planning an assault on Congress and kidnapping some of its members with the purpose of exchanging them for prisoners accused as Emeretistas.

December 1995: The interrogation

  • Lori was interrogated day and night for nine days without any legal representation.
  • On December 9, 1995, Lori was required to give her official testimony before DINCOTE headquarters in an 11-hour session, without having had any prior access to a lawyer. Her attorney, hired the evening before, was not allowed to meet with Lori before giving her testimony. He was allowed to be present at the process, but not to give Lori legal assistance.
  • During the process, Lori was only allowed to answer questions, but not to present evidence in her favor. Her attorney was also not allowed to ask questions of the witnesses who testified against her.

January 1996: Presentation and “Process”

  • On January 3, 1996, Lori’s attorney was given less than two hours to examine a 2,000-page file detailing the allegations and alleging evidence against Lori and 19 other co-defendants arrested in the November 30 confrontation.
  • On January 4, 1996, the prosecutor (a member of the armed forces) met with the judge, presented his case, and recommended that Lori receive a 30-year sentence for treason against Peru. Neither Lori nor her lawyer were allowed to attend this meeting to hear what the prosecutor had to say.
  • On the morning of January 8, 1996, Lori’s lawyer appeared before the judge “without a face” (hooded) and argued that she was innocent of the charges. Neither Lori nor the prosecutor were present.
  • On the afternoon of January 8, 1996, Lori was introduced to the press. This came after 11 days of being in a miserable rat-infested cell shared with a seriously injured woman who was denied necessary medical care. This was physically and psychologically overwhelming for Lori and left her very sensitive to the inhumane treatment of her cellmate by the Peruvian government. This was clearly the intention of the Peruvian government. Lori was then introduced to the press, and warned that she had to shout to be heard, and what resulted was a fierce criticism of Peruvian injustice. Observers perceived militancy, defiance, and admission of guilt, even though there was no such admission.
  • On January 11, 1996, while a hooded soldier held a pistol to her head, a hooded judge declared her the leader of the MRTA. He sentenced her to life imprisonment in a maximum security military prison without the possibility of parole.
  • Two weeks after sentencing, Lori’s attorney made written and oral presentations to the hooded military judges who had been assigned to review the case. He pointed out the violations of Peruvian law in the process against Lori, the weakness of the circumstantial evidence, and the inappropriateness of the charge of treason. He made the request to move the case to civil court. (Lori was not allowed to participate in this or the final review process. She had already been transferred to the Yanamayo Prison to begin serving her sentence on January 17.
  • On January 30, 1996, the court reviewing the case announced its decision to maintain a life sentence.
  • In March 1996, a final appeal was made to the five members of the Supreme Military Court, who again confirmed life imprisonment without parole. The Court declined to recommend this case to the civil courts for public prosecution.

Transfer to the Socabaya Prison

  • On October 7, 1998, Lori was transferred to the Socabaya Prison in Arequipa, one day before a public hearing on a January 22, 1998 petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was to take place in Washington DC. The Peruvian government told the Commission that it had transferred Lori from the severe Yanamayo Prison located in the frigid Andes at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters to demonstrate its respect for human rights. He admitted that Lori had suffered serious medical problems in Yanamayo.The Socabaya Prison for Women was not a maximum security prison and, as Lori was a maximum security prisoner, she was not allowed any interaction with the general prison population. She was placed in total isolation in a separate wing where for four months she was not allowed to see, hear or speak to other prisoners. The guards who brought Lori food three times a day to her cell did not converse with her, and during her hour of time a day allowed in the courtyard, she was also alone.Following two Urgent Action Alerts from Amnesty International, citing cruel inhuman treatment and psychological torture under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, together with the help of the Catholic Church and the International Committee of the Cross Roja, Lori’s total isolation was ended in January 1999 when other maximum security prisoners were brought to Socabaya and placed in the same ward.Lori remained in the Socabaya Prison until August 31, 2000, when she was transferred to Lima and placed in the maximum security prison for women in Santa Mónica de Chorrillos, so that she can “participate” in her civil trial that had begun. three days earlier, the same day that the Supreme Council of Military Justice had overturned his conviction for treason and his life sentence.
Supreme Court Appeals For Lori Berenson

Supreme Court Appeals For Lori Berenson

In February 2002, the Supreme Court of Peru upheld Lori’s conviction and 20-year sentence by four votes to one. The five-judge panel dismissed her appeal that she was innocent of all charges and was imprisoned solely for her beliefs. The dissenting opinion, offered by Judge Cabala, President of the Supreme Court, argued that there was no evidence to convict Lori for collaboration and instead urged a conviction with the lesser charge of illicit association with a significant reduction in the magnitude of sentence.

Dr. Sandoval, Lori’s attorney, had argued that during the civil trial that began on August 28, 2000, there were numerous violations of fundamental due process and that no evidence was presented, nor was any testimony, to warrant a conviction. Dr. Sandoval said that the judges relied extensively on tainted evidence obtained from other prisoners under duress and threats of torture during the original military tribunals from 1995 to 1996. Dr. Sandoval has also noted that Chief Judge Ibazeta had biased against Lori two years earlier but that she refused to recuse herself from the case, and that the media, now recognized as corrupted by the discredited Fujimori and Montesinos regime, had created a very negative public image of Lori from which she could hardly free herself,

The United States Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch: Americas, Washington Office of Latin America, and the Organization of American States have all declared that the trials in the special civil courts for cases related to terrorism in Peru do not comply with international standards of justice and due process. Lori’s civil trial was no exception. During the three months of the public phase of the trial (March 20, 2001 to June 20, 2001) there were 33 sessions in the courtroom of the Court and during this time Lori faced the judges and prosecutors and answered their questions for more. 26 hours.

Did the two trials offer Lori due process?

No, none of the trials offered due process.
In January 1996 Lori was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life in prison by a secret “faceless” court while a hooded soldier kept pointing a rifle at her head. There was no process. These military tribunals have been condemned by the US State Department, Amnesty International, the Carter Center for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch: Americas. In December 1998, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that Lori Berenson was arbitrarily deprived of her liberty and that the government of Peru must take all necessary measures to remedy her unjust imprisonment.

The verdict was overturned and the sentence was thrown out in August 2000 after a review by the Supreme Council of Military Justice that finally admitted it lacked any evidence to support the charges. However, instead of releasing her, Lori’s case was transferred to the Special Peruvian Civil Court for Terrorism. According to the US Department of State annual national reports, the trials in these courts “do not meet international standards of openness, fairness, and due process.” The Organization of American States, the United Nations, and other international organizations agree with this. Specifically, the Inter-American Court of the Organization of American States ruled in a 1999 case that Peru’s anti-terrorist laws violate due process and that any trial conducted under these laws violates the American Convention on Human Rights. Lori’s civil trial was conducted by remnants of the Fujimori regime.

Violations of Peruvian and international laws in the military trial

Lori is one of the thousands of defendants whose trials have not met international standards in laws and conventions ratified by Peru and mentioned in Article 105 of its own 1993 Constitution. The following are the four international treaties that Peru has violated:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified in 1978)
  • The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ratified in 1988)
  • The Inter-American Convention on Human Rights (ratified in 1978)
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (ratified in 1948)

The following are some of the rights violated in the case of Lori Berenson in her military court:

International treaties and laws

  • The right to be notified of the charges
  • The right to know all the charges against the accused before the trial is completed
  • The right to consultation with the defense council
  • The right against self-incrimination
  • The right to confront witnesses contrary to the accused
  • The right to be present while evidence to the contrary is presented to the accused
  • The right to adequate time to prepare a defense
  • The right to a trial free from outside influences
  • The right to be accused of crimes recognized as criminal according to international standards of justice
  • The right to have the appeal heard by judges free from outside influence and government manipulation.
  • The right of the accused in an appeal process to know the argument of the adversary
  • The right to be detained in a manner consistent with the rules prohibiting cruel punishment
  • The right to apply for habeas habeas to an independent court

Peruvian law

  • The right to prosecution (indictment) prepared by a prosecutor
  • The need for the prosecutor and the investigating judge to keep their functions separate
  • The right of the accused to be present during the search of his home
The Civil Trial Of Lori Berenson

The Civil Trial Of Lori Berenson

Procedures for terrorism-related cases in civil courts consist of three phases. In the first phase, the Investigative Phase, an “investigative” judge, in the case of Lori Judge Romel Borda, takes testimony from the accused and from witnesses. The second phase, the Public Phase or hearings, is a trial before a panel of three judges, in the case of Lori, Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta, Judge Eliana Elder Araujo and Judge Carlos Augusto Manrique. There is no jury. After the court’s verdict comes the third phase, the Appeal Phase. The defense and / or the prosecution can request the Supreme Court for Terrorism to review the decision.

“Process” or “Inquisition”?

Many Peruvian intellectuals were appalled by the process. Writer Eduardo González Viana referred to Lori’s trial as the “Return of the Spanish Inquisition to Lima” and writer Alfredo Pita wrote a letter to the Peruvian government signed by more than 100 academics, artists, human rights activists, religious leaders, and medical doctors condemning the bragging on the part of the judges and prosecutors. The then US congressman and attorney, Joe Scarborough, attended one of the first public sessions, observed the situation, and said: “the court has been cruel against her.” It was clear that the three judges were working in concert with the prosecutor and the attorney in an effort to convict Lori, despite the lack of evidence.

Court prejudices

Lori’s civil trial was full of prejudices from the day it was announced in August 2000. Prior to the start of the public phase of the process on March 20, 2001, Chief Judge Marcos Ibazeta refused to recuse himself from the case despite having been presented evidence proving his public bias against Lori in 1999. Judge Ibazeta apparently put his personal ambition over ethics. It was obvious that he wanted to participate as Chief Judge in the highly publicized process because he was also one of the five finalist candidates in the Peruvian Congress for the role of Ombudsman, an important position within the Peruvian government. The election took place during the second of the three months of the public process and, although Judge Ibazeta received the most publicity, he was not elected to the position he desired. During the course of the process, however, he used the media to the best of his ability to gain publicity for his candidacy for this prestigious position. In an interview with the newspaper El País of Spain (April 22, 2001) Judge Ibazeta incomprehensibly said that Lori would be acquitted if she could convince the court of her innocence. In this modern age, the law of Peru and the Human Rights Convention, of which Peru is a signatory, require that the state prove individual guilt, and not that the individual have to prove his innocence. In an interview with the newspaper El País of Spain (April 22, 2001) Judge Ibazeta incomprehensibly said that Lori would be acquitted if she could convince the court of her innocence. In this modern age, the law of Peru and the Human Rights Convention, of which Peru is a signatory, require that the state prove individual guilt, and not that the individual have to prove his innocence. In an interview with the newspaper El País of Spain (April 22, 2001) Judge Ibazeta incomprehensibly said that Lori would be acquitted if she could convince the court of her innocence. In this modern age, the law of Peru and the Human Rights Convention, of which Peru is a signatory, require that the state prove individual guilt, and not that the individual have to prove his innocence.

Widespread prejudice

From the moment Lori’s case was taken out of the military court and sent to the civil court, the media spread the move as an example that President Fujimori was succumbing to pressure from the United States. Mr. Fujimori was attacked in the media by loyal politicians as well as his opponents for allowing the “terrorist gringa” to have a civil trial. Cabinet members joined the debate along with judges, human rights groups, and the Peruvian public. Due to the propaganda machine of the Fujimori-Montesinos duo that had represented Lori for so long as the “symbol of violence and terrorism” in Peru, the poisoned public was prejudiced against her. And now the media controlled by Fuji-Montesinism had their big break. Editorials, articles, Letters to the editor were open to promote vociferous biased opinions. Even one day before the public trial began, one of the world’s most respected representatives, Ronald Gamarra, biased against Lori in a quote from the New York Times, outrageously saying that if Lori received a fair trial she would be sentenced.

The court proceedings began on March 20, 2001 with Lori locked in a cage. She argued that, beyond the humiliation of being locked in a cage for her trial, the psychological impact of the hearing is one of guilt rather than the presumption of innocence – a violation of a fundamental right under the American Declaration of Human Rights. In the subsequent 32 sessions Lori was placed directly in front of the bars of the cage – with the dire implication that she would soon be behind the bars again.

Prior to her sentencing on June 20, 2001, Lori was allowed to address the court. For 40 minutes, in a clear, calm and passionate way, Lori maintained her innocence and once again discredited the claims of the prosecution, reaffirmed her beliefs and expressed her love for Peru, its people and its future. The Court had a recess and a few hours later it met again, and despite the fact that there was no evidence presented or testimony issued on which to base its sentence, the judges sentenced Lori to 20 years in prison for collaboration. It is interesting to note that, in its decision, the Court publicly denounced the illegitimacy of her previous military court, and acquitted Lori not only of her accusation of being a leader of the MRTA, but also acquitted her of her membership and militancy.

The EFE news service summarized Lori’s situation in a recent review: “Lori Berenson, 33, was tried twice for the same crime of terrorism, once in Military Court, and then in Civil Court,” In Legal language, this is called “being submitted twice for the same facts” – and this is just one of the many due process violations that made this trial more of a “public event” or circus rather than a legal court proceeding. . And Judge Ibazeta, obviously, not wanting to offend the media in his candidacy for Ombudsman, not once did he admonish journalists and cameramen for their lack of order and respect in court. He also stopped pointing out his biases and mistakes during the interviews,