At Parole Hearing, Berenson Apologizes for Aiding Peruvian Rebels

Monday, Aug 16, 2010  |  Updated 1:01 PM EDT
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At Parole Hearing, Berenson Apologizes for Aiding Peruvian Rebels

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Lori Berenson, smiles after leaving prison on parole next to her husband and attorney Anibal Apari, in Lima on Thursday.

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American activist Lori Berenson has apologized for aiding leftist rebels and asked a Peruvian court to let her remain free on parole.

The 40-year-old New Yorker acknowledges collaborating with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement but says she was never involved in violent acts.

Prosecutors are calling for Berenson's parole to be revoked and for her to finish her 20-year sentence behind bars. She was released from prison in May after serving 15 years.

Berenson addressed a criminal appeals court in Lima on Monday. She said that "if my coming to Peru has meant harm to the country, I am sorry and I regret it.''

The court has up to 15 days to decide on Berenson's parole.

Now 40, the New Yorker spent more than a third of her life behind bars — getting married, giving birth, undergoing back surgery — but never denouncing the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement she was convicted of abetting.

Berenson was convicted of treason by a military court in 1996. But after an intense campaign by her college professor parents she was retried in a civilian court in 2000. It convicted Berenson of the lesser crime and reduced her sentence to 20 years.

The U.S. State Department had pushed hard for the civilian trial, saying Berenson was denied due process by the military tribunal. Her case soured relations between the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton and that of former Peruvian strongman Alberto Fujimori.

Fujimori stepped down in disgrace in 2000 before Berenson's retrial, and is now an inmate in state custody on convictions for crimes including murder, kidnapping and corruption.

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