International court upholds Berenson sentence in Peru


LIMA, Peru - A Peruvian court's conviction of American Lori Berenson on terrorism charges has been upheld by a hemispheric human rights court, President Alejandro Toledo announced yesterday.

The ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica had been eagerly awaited in Peru, where Berenson remains a hated symbol of the 20-year guerrilla war that left nearly 70,000 Peruvians dead. "Fortunately, the intelligence, balance and experience of the court judges have ratified the sentence," Toledo said.

Berenson, 35, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology dropout, has spent nine years in Peruvian prisons. She is not scheduled to be released until 2015, just after her 46th birthday.

Berenson received a 20-year sentence in 2001 from a civilian court - later upheld by Peru's Supreme Court - that convicted her of plotting with leftist guerrillas of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement to raid Peru's Congress and take hostage its 120 members. She had been sentenced to life in prison at a 1996 trial - conducted by a secret anti-terrorism court in which judges were hooded to protect their identities - that was later annulled.

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