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Decision Expected on Berenson Case

July 16, 2002

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LIMA, Peru (AP) _ The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will ``soon″ decide whether to send the case of Lori Berenson, an American imprisoned for collaborating with rebels, to an international court, an official said Monday.

The court, the legal arm of the Organization of American States, would have the authority to order Peru to overturn her conviction if it found Berenson’s human rights were violated.

A spokesman for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a decision would be made soon. But he did not give more details about the deliberations on the case.

Mark Berenson, Lori Berenson’s father, said Monday that the Washington-based commission found that his daughter’s retrial last year violated her human rights and that Peru had refused to carry out the commission’s recommendations.

The commission, which reviews allegations of human rights violations, would not confirm Berenson’s statement.

The human rights panel can make nonbinding recommendations to member governments to resolve the accusations. It can also pass cases to the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court, which can legally require members, including Peru, to comply with its rulings.

Berenson, 32, has been serving out a 20-year sentence after a civilian court convicted her in June 2001 of aiding the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in a failed bid to seize Peru’s Congress.

A secret military court originally sentenced Berenson in 1996 to life in prison for being a Tupac Amaru leader and plotting the thwarted attack, but that sentence was overturned in 2000.

In February, the Supreme Court upheld the civilian court’s decision, leaving a presidential pardon or a ruling by the inter-American system as Berenson’s only options for getting released from prison.

Peruvian Justice Minister Fernando Olivera was expected to make an announcement about the case from Washington, where he was meeting with commission officials, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman said Monday.

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