Peru: Early release for US woman jailed for terror

Peru has ordered the release of American Lori Berenson, who was serving a 20-year sentence for terrorism since 1995, granting her a reduced sentence for good conduct, judge Jessica Leon said.

Lima: Peru has ordered the release of American Lori Berenson, who was serving a 20-year sentence for terrorism since 1995, granting her a reduced sentence for good conduct, judge Jessica Leon said.

Berenson, a 40-year-old New Yorker, is the only American who has been jailed on a terror conviction in Peru.

"Berenson is in the position to reinsert herself in society," read in part the ruling which says she may not leave Peru until the calendar end of her 20-year sentence.

Her release comes just ahead of a planned trip by President Alan Garcia to Washington for a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Lori Berenson was convicted as an accomplice to the armed group the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and for having taken part in plans to attack and take over Congress in 1995, under the government of then-president Alberto Fujimori.

Her case made international headlines as her parents campaigned tirelessly for her release.

In a 40-minute hearing carried live on Peruvian television on Monday the judge told Berenson her release was conditional on her residence in Peru`s capital, Lima. Berenson, all smiles, said she agreed with the proceedings and hugged her attorney.

She also likely was helped by her active renunciation of violence and an apology. Berenson said in the ruling read out in court that "MRTA violence had been harmful to Peru.
Saying she now renounced any ties to the MRTA, Berenson said in the ruling read out that "I have learned in prison that violence is not going to be changed by violence."

The American woman was to be released physically today.

Berenson in May 2009 gave birth to a boy named Salvador, whom she had with a former MRTA rebel she met and then married while imprisoned in 2003.
The Marxist MRTA`s in 1996 launched what became Latin America`s longest large-scale hostage crisis, seizing the Japanese ambassador`s residence in Lima and holding 72 hostages for more than four months.

Bureau Report

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