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Lori Berenson: Father, Lawyer Allege Abuse of Jailed American

LIMA - A lawyer for Lori Berenson, an American jailed in Peru for aiding a leftist rebel group, said yesterday that his client was mistreated during a prison transfer last week. Her father said she was sexually abused in the incident.

Lawyer Jose Luis Sandoval told RPP radio he had filed an ''abuse of authority and injuries'' complaint against police officials and Justice Minister Fernando Olivera, the head of Peru's prison authority, after Berenson's sudden transfer from a top-security women's jail in Lima to the northern city of Cajamarca.

Her father, Mark Berenson, said the complaint was rooted in physical and sexual abuse that occurred during the surprise move, which officials said was made for security reasons.

Sandoval was unavailable for further comment, and judicial authorities declined to comment on the complaint.

The elder Berenson said that security forces, armed with tear gas and billy clubs, fondled and threatened to rape his daughter and beat other prisoners during the move to her new prison.

''There was no reason for this brutal attack,'' he said.

Olivera, the top justice official for President Alejandro Toledo, said Berenson and fellow leftist prisoner Nancy Gilvonio had been moved because they refused to participate in rehabilitation programs and had flunked behavior exams.

In 1996, a military court sentenced Berenson, a former MIT student, to life in prison as a leader of the leftist Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, known by its Spanish acronym as MRTA.

She spent several years in different prisons, including a freezing one about 12,700 feet above sea level, before being given a civilian retrial this year. The civilian court gave Berenson a 20-year sentence for helping the MRTA plan an attack on Congress.

Berenson is due to be released in 2015.

For more info, see Committee to Free Lori Berensen




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