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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"The rebels made headlines worldwide"
 real 56k

Claire Marshall reports from Santiago
"Lori Berenson appeared calm when she was told she would have to spend another fifteen-and-a-half years in a prison in Peru"
 real 28k

Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
American 'guerrilla' sentenced in Peru
Lori Berenson
Berenson: Verdict is "unjust"
A 31-year-old American citizen has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for terrorist collaboration in Peru.

Lori Berenson said she would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court and that the sentence was "unjust".


I consider this an unjust sentence and I am innocent of the charges against me

Lori Berenson
She has already spent more than five years in a Peruvian prison after being jailed for life for treason in 1996 by hooded members of a secret military tribunal.

But she was granted a retrial on lesser charges last year after years of pressure by the United States.

A spokesman for President-elect Alejandro Toledo said he might discuss the option of a pardon on a trip to the US at the end of June.

Pleas of innocence

Taking place in a makeshift courtroom in a maximum security prison in Lima, Lori Berenson's three-month retrial was the last chance for her to clear her name.

Mark and Rhoda Berenson
Berenson's parents have also been attending the trial
Despite her final pleas of innocence to the three judges, they pronounced her guilty.

The judges found that she helped a Marxist rebel group, the MRTA, by renting out a house as their hide-out and posing as a journalist to gather information for a planned takeover of Congress in 1995.

However, they did clear her of the more serious accusation of being an active rebel militant.

BBC correspondent Claire Marshall says that Berenson appeared calm as the verdict was read out.

In interviews before the trial to the press, she had speculated not on whether she would be set free, but on how many more years she would have to serve.

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20 Mar 01 | Americas
American 'guerrilla' retried in Peru
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