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Peru judge revokes parole of US woman held for involvement with rebel group

A Peruvian judge on Wednesday revoked the parole of Lori Berenson [advocacy website], a US citizen held since 1995 for collaboration with a Marxist rebel organization. Berenson was granted parole [JURIST report] in May after serving 14 years of her 20-year sentence with the judge citing good behavior, renunciation of violence and completion of rehabilitation. Judges for the court reinstated her sentence after legal authorities failed to verify addresses of residence [NYT report] provided by Berenson after her release. An arrest warrant has been issued for Berenson, but she was not found at her apartment in Lima and has yet to be located. Berenson also had a son while in prison, which is said to have played a role in her release. Berenson was arrested in 1995 for involvement with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], a left-wing rebel group. She is alleged to have trained guerrillas [Guardian report] and moved weapons for the MRTA in addition to assisting the group in carrying out an attack on the Peruvian Congress [official website, in Spanish] by gaining access to the body using press credentials.

In 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [official website] denied an appeal request to reinterpret its November 2004 ruling [JURIST reports] that upheld Berenson's conviction. Lawyers for Berenson claimed that her trial failed to meet international standards for fairness and sought to have her conviction and 20-year sentence overturned. In a 2000 CBS News interview [text], Berenson characterized her original trial proceedings as hostile and coercive, saying that she had faced a panel of hooded judges and that armed guards had aimed assault rifles at her and her lawyer's heads during the 10-minute proceeding. She was initially sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court, but the sentence was reduced to 20 years in a civil retrial in 2001.

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