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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 19:51 GMT
No Peru pardon for jailed American
Lori Berenson
Berenson is on hunger strike
The government in Peru has ruled out a pardon for an American woman, Lori Berenson, after her conviction on terrorism charges was upheld by the country's Supreme Court on Monday.


The law has to apply equally to everyone. No presidential pardon is under consideration

Justice Minister Fernando Olivera
Justice Minister Fernando Olivera has said no presidential pardon was being considered and Berenson would have to serve her 20-year jail sentence.

He did, however, leave open the possibility of allowing her to complete her prison term in the United States, but said no such request had been received from Washington.

Berenson, a 32-year-old from New York, was convicted in June on charges of collaborating with left-wing rebels of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in a plot to attack Peru's congress seven years ago.

Mark and Rhoda Berenson
Berenson's parents have campaigned ceaselessly

Berenson has previously ruled out serving her sentence in a US jail because she considers herself innocent.

She has always denied the charges which led to a first trial in 1996 - later overturned - saying they were politically motivated.

Berenson's lawyer has said she will appeal to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States, as all appeals within the Peruvian justice system have been exhausted.

She has already been jailed for six years and must now serve out the sentence that ends in 2015.

'Farce'

Berenson has joined hundreds of jailed guerrillas in a hunger strike to protest against prison conditions and Peru's anti-terrorism laws.

Berenson case in dates
1995: Arrested
1996: First trial, jailed for life
2000: Conviction overturned, civil retrial ordered
June 2001: Convicted and sentenced to 20 years

"This judicial process was a farce from its beginning to its end. I am innocent of the charges," she said in a statement from the prison in the northern mountain city of Cajamarca.

Her parents say they will seek the help of US President George Bush, who makes an official visit to Peru on 23-24 March.

"We know that Lori is innocent, and we remain optimistic that she will be released. We call upon President George W Bush to right this wrong and to secure Lori's release," they said in the statement.

Conviction overturned

Berenson was arrested in late 1995 and jailed for life as a MRTA leader by a hooded military judge.

Her conviction was overturned in 2000 and a civil retrial ordered.

That court convicted her in June of helping MRTA rebels to plot an attack on the congress and sentenced her to 20 years.

Her father says Berenson did not know they were planning the attack on the congress, and that there is no known document of any plan of attack.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | Americas
Peru confirms US woman's jail term
22 Jan 02 | Americas
Berenson's lawyer 'not optimistic'
20 Mar 01 | Americas
American 'guerrilla' retried in Peru
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