Jailed American says Peru tortures inmates
From Herald wires services
Lori Berenson, a New Yorker imprisoned in Peru after being convicted
terrorism laws, said in an interview released Wednesday that ``extremely harsh
torture'' exists in Peru's prisons and that ``people have been killed.''
Berenson, 30, made her claims on the Democracy Today radio news
hosted by Amy Goodman on the Pacific Radio Network in the United States.
Goodman said the interview was secretly taped in March last year at the
Socabaya maximum security prison south of Arequipa, adding that the interview
was not publicly released earlier to prevent endangering Berenson.
Berenson was arrested in November 1995 and charged with collaborating
Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Goodman visited Berenson in Peru with a
U.S. human rights delegation.
Goodman said Berenson's lawyers and parents had screened the excerpts.
at this point it would be safer to air it now after she's moved out of the Socabaya
prison and into Lima,'' Goodman said.
Speaking 18 months before Peru voided her conviction and granted
the new trial,
Berenson insisted she was innocent and said she thought it would be impossible
to get a fair trial.
``With . . . such negative publicity that I've had in Peru, I
would never get a fair
trial,'' Berenson said.
In the interview, Berenson complained about the cold in a prison
high in the Andes Mountains, where she was held for three years before being
transferred to Socabaya. She said her ``health has failed in jail,'' but added that
other inmates were in much worse shape.
Goodman said Berenson told her she had seen some of them tortured
some had been killed, although she was unsure whether Berenson had actually
witnessed any deaths.
Berenson said that a month after she was arrested, a woman with
wounds was placed in her cell.
``They had left her on a dirty mattress, naked,'' Berenson said.
``Probably with a
shirt on or something. A filthy mattress with five open wounds, which is pretty
horrendous. I mean, there were rats in my bed and things like that.''
The Peruvian Mission to the United Nations did not immediately
return a call