Protection of American Citizens Abroad - The prosecution's case

The explanation for the impasse can be found partly in an ongoing disagreement between the United States and Peru over whether or not Berenson was accorded justice in either of her trials. The Department of State had criticized Peru's courts in each annual Country Human Rights Report in the 1990s. It noted in 1999, for example, that "Proceedings in the military courts—and those for terrorism in civilian courts—do not meet internationally accepted standards for openness, fairness, and due process." Indeed, reports of the initial trials, which Peru has not refuted, portray a panel of judges, hooded to conceal their identity; prosecutors who were allowed virtually unlimited opportunities to present their case; and a defense that had few opportunities to speak. After the trial, Berenson reported that she had been allowed to spend very little time with her attorney to prepare her defense.

Also, reports that are unconfirmed but not refuted indicate that the prosecution's cases in both trials were very similar. Berenson was portrayed as a key figure drawing plans to invade the Congress and kidnap its members. She was not, as she claimed, a freelance journalist writing about impoverished women. Rather, she was a professional revolutionary who had come to Peru after an agent of the MRTA had discussed with her how she might aid his organization and had paid in advance for her assistance. In Lima, the agent had helped her rent a large house in which a cadre of terrorists took over the top floor. Here she formulated plans while the terrorists built an arsenal of guns, ammunition, and explosives. She had also used her credentials as a journalist to take the wife of a terrorist leader, who posed as her photographer, to Congress, where the two gathered information on the layout of the building and identified the seats occupied by every member of Congress. To corroborate these latter activities, police displayed a chart filled with this information and produced evidence that presumably proved the handwriting was the defendant's. Finally, Berenson was said to have purchased a computer and other electronic equipment for the MRTA.

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