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Latino Daily News

Saturday January 7, 2012

Lori Berenson returns to Peru After Spending Holiday with Family in US

Lori Berenson returns to Peru After Spending Holiday with Family in US

Photo: Lori Berenson Arrives in Peru

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American Lori Berenson, on parole after serving most of a 20-year prison sentence for aiding leftist rebels in Peru, returned to the Andean nation from the United States after spending the holidays with her family.

A crowd of reporters was waiting for Berenson and her young son when they disembarked Thursday at Lima’s international airport, but she left the terminal without making any statements.

The U.S. citizen was granted parole in 2010 after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence and was required to stay in Peru for five more years.

Her first visit to the United States since 1995 was made possible by a judge’s order, but the ensuing uproar in Peru prompted President Ollanta Humala’s government to propose a bill banning travel abroad by parolees with convictions for terrorism.

Congress approved the proposal on Wednesday.

Berenson, now 42, was arrested in December 1995 as she was leaving the Peruvian Congress.

Prosecutors alleged that she entered the premises with false press credentials to obtain information on the building’s security systems for use in planning an attack by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, guerrilla group.

A day after her arrest, police foiled an MRTA plot to storm Congress, take lawmakers hostage and exchange them for jailed leaders of the now-defunct rebel group.

One of the special military courts established by then-President Alberto Fujimori - now serving time for massacres committed during his administration - sentenced Berenson to life behind bars for treason.

The sentence was reduced to 20 years by a civilian court that retried the U.S. activist after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled invalid the verdicts handed down by the Fujimori-era panels.