Imprisoned American gets married without groom

Friday, October 3, 2003

LIMA, Peru -- Lori Berenson, an American serving a 20-year sentence for aiding leftist rebels, married a former inmate Thursday in a prison ceremony the groom was barred from attending because he is on parole.

Anibal Apari confirmed his marriage to Berenson, 33, after receiving a phone call from his bride. His father stood in for him during the nuptials in the Andean town of Cajamarca, 350 miles north of Lima.

"I'm married. Twenty minutes ago Lori called me and confirmed that we're husband and wife," Apari said.

The groom, 41, met Berenson while both were serving sentences for involvement with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Apari was released from prison in June after serving 12 1/2 years of a 15-year sentence, but was prohibited from leaving the capital, Lima, by the terms of his parole. A judge has allowed him to visit his new wife in prison next week, he said.

He has not seen Berenson since October 1998, when she was transferred to a different prison.

The wedding is Berenson's second. She was briefly married to a former Salvadoran leftist rebel when she lived in El Salvador in the early 1990s.

Berenson was convicted by a secret military court in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison for being a Tupac Amaru leader and plotting a thwarted attack on Peru's Congress.

That decision was overturned in 2000, and the following year she was convicted in a civilian court on the lesser charge of terrorist collaboration and sentenced to 20 years in prison, including time served. Berenson denies the charges.

Berenson, a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, is hoping her conviction will be overturned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica sometime next year.

"We're used to swimming against the tide. We met each other and our relationship developed in the midst of adversity and in the midst of adversity we continue," Apari said.

"People understand that Lori and I are human beings and like everybody else we have every right to make a life, to find happiness and love."

Laura Furst, the Washington-based national organizer for the Committee to Free Lori Berenson, said she had not yet received confirmation of the wedding.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: