Peru to Keep Ill American Convict in Jail Hospital
AREQUIPA, Peru -- American Lori Berenson, sentenced to life
imprisonment in Peru on terrorism charges, will stay in a prison
hospital for a month to recover from ailments caused by freezing,
high-altitude jail conditions, doctors said Tuesday.
The New Yorker
was transferred last week from the Yanamayo
maximum-security prison, 12,700 feet above sea level, for medical tests
at a lower-lying, common criminal jail at Socabaya near the southern city
Since her arrival,
authorities have posted extra armed guards around the
1997-built women's jail, where Berenson is the only "terrorist" prisoner.
in Peru on terrorism charges are usually held at top
security, guerrilla-only wings of old prisons or at purpose-built jails.
was found guilty by a military judge in 1996 of belonging to
a Marxist rebel group. She is suffering from circulatory and throat illnesses
caused by the thin air at Yanamayo, the regional institute of prison doctors
said in a statement.
posted on the Socabaya jail's wall, did not say whether
Berenson will return to the notorious Yanamayo prison in the Andes after
treatment. Government sources have said she may return once her health
improves at Socabaya, which lies about 620 miles south of Lima.
For nearly three
years at Yanamayo, Berenson, who says she is innocent,
spent 23 hours a day in a tiny, poorly-lit cell with a hole in the concrete
floor as a toilet. Human rights groups have labeled the prison's conditions
to Socabaya came as her parents petitioned last week
the Organization of American States human rights commission in
Washington to review her case.
Berenson was convicted for being a leader of the
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. This was the group that later
held 72 people hostage during a 126-day siege at the Japanese
ambassador's residence in Lima in 1996-97.
organizations, including Amnesty International, have called
Berenson's military trial a parody of justice and the United States has
urged Peru to hear her case in an open civilian court.