Lori Berenson, convicted American terrorist, sent back to Peru prison
Lori Berenson was released on parole three months ago. But the mother of a 15-month old was sent back to prison Wednesday, after a judge in Peru struck down her parole. Berenson has served 15 years of a 20-year sentence. She was convicted of aiding Peruvian leftist rebels.
Lori Berenson, an American activist convicted of aiding leftist rebels surrendered to police Wednesday after a court struck down a decision granting her parole and ordered her to return to prison, where she is to remain with her 15-month-old son for the time being.Skip to next paragraph
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Berenson was arrested by police at the U.S. Embassy, where she was at what her father called a "regular consular meeting" to keep embassy officials apprised of her situation.
"She's calm. She is a very strong woman," her husband and lawyer, Anibal Apari, told reporters outside the embassy. "She is going to return to jail with her baby."
As she was led to a courthouse cell, Berenson carried her son in her arms.
Television footage later showed Berenson being taken to the Chorrillos women's prison in an ambulance. It is common practice in Peru to transfer prisoners in ambulances.
The ruling by the three-judge panel of the criminal appeals court was announced two days after the 40-year-old New Yorker appeared at a hearing, apologizing for her crime and asking the court to uphold her parole. Berenson told the court on Monday that she regrets her actions and hoped to focus on raising on her son, Salvador.
In an interview on Monday with three Lima-based journalists, Berenson said her case had become a political football in an election year: Some former rebels are running for office in state and municipal elections in October, and Berenson is viewed by many Peruvians as a symbol of the left-wing violence that afflicted the nation two decades ago.
"I think there are various people ó not all of them are politicians – who think this is an issue where it looks good to be a hard-liner. It even seems like there's competition to see who can be the toughest on this issue," she said in the interview, a recording of which was provided to The Associated Press.
Berenson has acknowledged collaborating with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, but said she was never a member of the group nor involved in violent acts.
She has so far served 15 years of a 20-year prison sentence for terrorist collaboration.
President Alan Garcia has the power to commute Berenson's sentence, which would allow for her immediate deportation. But he has said he will wait for justice to run its course before making any decision.
Deputy Justice Minister Luis Marill said the court struck down the May 27 decision that granted Berenson's parole ó a decision that was widely unpopular in Peru.
The appeals court annulled the decision because Berenson's defense had not promptly complied with a requirement to notify police of the address where she would live upon her release, a process that also required verification by authorities. The ruling returned the case to the lower court judge who authorized the parole.
Apari expressed confidence the judge could rule again in two or three weeks once that issue is resolved, saying "it's only that her domicile needs to be verified."