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Stop Terror Threats * Berenson's Trial Winding Down * "Star Wars Returns"

The days for those willing to harm innocent lives and use terror as a strategy for silencing people are gradually coming to an end. This is part of the value of the communications age, where the threats to life, by injustice and heinous crimes to humanity, are shrieking to a closure by the openness and courage of those willing to unite behind what is just and what is good. Please take time in your day to support those needing your help, and those who have stood up to help us all.

1) Action Requested to Stop Threats to a Key Guatemalan Witness
2) Lori Berenson's Public Trial Winding Down


1) Action Requested to Stop Threats to a Key Guatemalan Witness

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee has sent out an alert regarding their Attorney, Jennifer Harbury. Besides her incredible work in support of Peltier, Attorney Harbury has done extensive human rights work in Guatemala, where she married a Mayan resistance leader, who was secretly imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the Guatemalan army in conjunction with the CIA. (For more on this you can read SEARCHING FOR EVERARDO by Jennifer Harbury.) Since then, she has filed lawsuits against the CIA and the Guatemalan army. One of these cases is currently heating up, and her key witness and others are receiving death threats.

In the following report, Jennifer Harbury is asking for calls to the Guatemalan Embassy and Congress. Only by a united front can we possible stop such heinous crimes against justice and human rights.

From Jennifer Harbury,
forwarded by the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee


Dear Friends,

I am writing to let everyone know that we need more extremely urgent calls and letters to the Guatemalan Embassy on behalf of Otoniel De La Roca Mendoza and his children. Unfortunately, the threats and intimidation against him and his family are escalating, and I fear that very soon someone will be very seriously injured or worse.

For those of you who did not see my last alert, Otoniel was a key witness in the recent Inter-American Court trial of the Guatemalan army in my husband's torture and murder. We won that case last December, with a 100 page unanimous international decision. Needless to say, the army was not amused, nor are they happy about our coming reparations hearing. Since they cannot undo the judgement, they are looking for revenge, and they want to warn all future witnesses to remain silent.

Otoniel was himself captured by the Guatemalan military and severely tortured. Among other abuses, he was "hooded" ( a plastic bag filled with pesticides was placed over his head to induce asphyxiation), drowned, beaten with a bat and given electric shocks. Then the army kidnaped his two small children from a church refuge and brought them to the base where he was being tortured. His mother, father , wife, and sister had already been "disappeared" by the military. During his time as a prisoner, he saw Everardo in military hands, being seriously abused. He was also able to learn the real names of many high level officers in the G-2 inner death squad. He shared all of this information with the UN Truth Commission, as well as MINUGUA, and he was a key witness in my OAS trial.

Since Otoniel arrived here in 1997 and began to share his information, the threats have been grim. When he first testified to the Inter American Commission in 1998 in Washington D.C., he received frantic calls from friends at home reporting that army officers had come by to leave messages for him, warning that he should think about the safety of his friends back home before he testified. He had the courage to speak out anyway, and has continued to do so. Since then, with a fair amount of difficulty, we have been able to bring his current wife and children and younger siblings here. However, an ex-wife remained in Guatemala with two young sons.

Once the court ruling came out, the pressure began to escalate again. A good friend fled Guatemala in December after repeated military "visits". In April, someone broke into my home in Texas, stealing only the laptop and not the money, cd player or credit cards, then called Otoniel from San Antonio, threatening to kill him and his children for what he had done. (As you will recall, an Amnesty representative received death threats in this time frame because of her editorial on the Gerardi trial). Then another call came to Otoniel's home with someone in a frightening voice declaring in Spanish that the call would be taped. They hung up. Meanwhile, back in Guatemala, menacing cars have been parking near the home of Otoniel's ex wife, watching her and her two sons. Just a few days ago she was followed into her neighborhood by an obvious military person and told she would be seeing them.

Otoniel believes that something drastic will soon occur, both to make an example out of him and this silence other potential witnesses, as well as to punish. We are both very fearful for the safety of his sons back in Guatemala. Our State Department tells me a visa could take nearly a month to obtain.


I realize that the thousands of calls everyone has made throughout all these years have been exhausting and burdensome. But they have saved lives, including mine, The telephone system does work.

Some of you have asked whether or not the police and FBI here have been informed. The answer is yes, we have reported to all agencies. But do not let the Guatemalan Embassy off the hook with this red herring. They used to say they would free Everardo if only I would tell them where he might be. This is just part of their style and strategy of distraction. It is not up to the US law enforcement agencies to locate and identify Guatemalan death squad members who are traveling in this country, using public phones, and false names. The Guatemalan army knows full well who these people are. It is up to the Guatemalan army to reign them in.

Please ask you Congresspersons to call the Guatemalan Ambassador as well.





2) Lori Berenson's Public Trial Winding Down

Thursday, May 17, 2001

To: All Friends and Supporters of Lori Berenson

In what may be the longest public trial in Peruvian history, the ninth week of hearings ended today with a continuation of Tuesday's session in which official testimony was read into the court record from all witnesses who provided information during the first (investigatory) phase of the trial that occurred between August 28 and early December 2000. Judge Marcos Ibazeta told Reuters that this reading should conclude at the next session on Tuesday May 22 and a trial summation by Prosecutor Carlos Navas, by Special Prosecutor Mario Cavagnaro, and by the Defense Lawyer Jose Luis Sandoval would likely follow next Thursday. The court is then expected to reconvene a week later for verdict and sentence. Before the verdict and sentence are announced, Lori will be permitted a last opportunity to speak. There could be a break lasting from one to 24 hours between Lori's last words and the actual reading of the verdict and sentence.

Judge Ibazeta expects the verdict and sentencing to occur two weeks from today unless the Appeals Court rules that he must withdraw from Lori's case based on the petition her lawyer filed against him for prejudice two weeks ago. Should that ruling occur, the whole public phase of the trial may have to start over again. To date, the hearings that began on March 20 have had 24 sessions. During this time, Lori has given testimony for 25.5 hours.

One of the accusations against Lori is that she supposedly served food and gave "political classes" to members of the MRTA who moved into the fourth floor of the large house after she moved out in August 1995. However, when testimony was read into the court records today from six MRTA members presently imprisoned throughout Peru who had lived on that fourth floor, they testified that they never met Lori until days after their arrest when they were all held at the DINCOTE anti-terrorism police headquarters in Lima. This confirmed Lori's testimony that she never met them, fed them, or educated them. Lori has testified that she knew three people who had used false names and who, as she learned in DINCOTE, were members of the MRTA. These three testified that Lori never knew their true identities, never knew they were members of the MRTA, was not herself a member of the MRTA, and never collaborated or in any other way helped that organization.

Congressman Salvador Sanchez Ceran, now a leader of the FMLN political party in the Congressional Assembly of El Salvador, sent to the court a letter attesting to the veracity of Lori's testimony regarding her work during the peace process that ended El Salvador's 12-year civil war and her subsequent work for the development of the democratic process in that country. At that time Lori worked as a personal secretary and assistant to Mr. Sanchez Ceran who then used the name Leonel Gonzalez when he was head of one of the five factions of the FMLN guerrilla movement.

Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton from the Archdiocese of Detroit attended Tuesday's hearing and then went to Chorrillos Prison where he had a private meeting with Lori for nearly three hours. This visit was arranged by the State Department and Bishop Gumbleton confirmed that he was treated very well by the Peruvian prison officials. This is a major change from the treatment he received during his first visit to Lori in September 1999 in Socabaya Prison in Arequipa. During that earlier meeting, a General from the Military Police, on direct orders from President Fujimori, sat in.

Bishop Gumbleton, a founder of Pax Christi, a human rights branch of the Catholic Church, said Lori was in excellent spirits. They discussed both political and ethical issues.

As Lori commented in her interviews last week with AP and Reuters, she has prepared herself for the worst. We will continue to hope for the best, but must also be prepared to respond if Lori receives a second unjust prison sentence, again with no evidence presented to prove that she is guilty. Currently, there are several protests being planned in San Francisco, Tucson, Dallas, Miami, Washington [DC], Paterson [NJ], and New York. If you would like to participate in the planning or if you would like to find out about planning a demonstration in your area, please contact the Washington office at Details of the events will be forthcoming at the end of the month.

Rhoda and Mark Berenson




Contacts: Steve Jambeck or Joan Flynn (718)318-8045)
Karl Grossman (631)725-2858)

"STAR WARS RETURNS," a video documentary exposing how the Bush administration is moving to make space a new arena of war, in violation of the intent of international law, has just been released by EnviroVideo.

The documentary is being distributed in the U.S. and around the world."STAR WARS RETURNS" is narrated and was written by investigative reporter and journalism Professor Karl Grossman, directed and edited by Emmy Award-winner Steve Jambeck and produced by Joan Flynn.

It presents U.S. military documents setting forth U.S. plans to "control space" and from space "dominate" the earth below. It reveals the multi-billion dollar U.S. development program now underway to produce space-based laser weapons, and that far more than "missile defense" is involved. It also details the international opposition to the U.S. Star Wars program.

"STAR WARS RETURNS" explores the recently issued report of the Space Commission chaired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld which calls for U.S. "power projection in, from and through space" and declares: "In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on earth and in space."

U.S. Senator Bob Smith, who wrote the legislation establishing the Rumsfeld Space Commission, asserts in "STAR WARS RETURNS" about U.S. "control" of space: "It is our manifest destiny. You know we went from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States of America settling the continent and they call that manifest destiny and the next continent if you will, the next frontier, is space and it goes on forever."

Others appearing in "STAR WARS RETURNS" are Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space; Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll (USN, ret.), vice president of the Center for Defense Information; Congressman Dennis Kucinich; physicist Dr. Vandana Shiva of India; Bill Sulzman, director of Citizens for Peace in Space; Dr. Michio Kaku,
professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York; editor Loring Wirbel; and Regina Hagen, a Global Network director.

Also interviewed is Craig Eisendrath who, as a U.S. State Department officer, was central in drafting the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the intent of which the U.S. is now preparing to violate, charges Eisendrath in "STAR WARS RETURNS." It is the basic international law on space, ratified by most countries of the world, and sets space aside for "peaceful purposes."

EnviroVideo has produced 175 television programs including the award-winning documentary "Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens."
Editors: For review copies of "STAR WARS RETURNS" call 718-318-8045.
For order information, see


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