- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Berenson proclaims her innocence

LIMA, Peru An optimistic and somewhat nervous Lori Berenson, a U.S. citizen convicted of treason in Peru in 1996 but later granted a retrial, yesterday denied charges of aiding Marxist rebels at the opening day of her public hearing.
"I would like to make it clear I am innocent," Berenson, 31, told a three-judge panel from behind bars in a concrete cell. Speaking fluent Spanish, the bespectacled former leftist activist and student stood by two female armed guards.
After three hours, Judge Marcos Ibazeta adjourned the hearing at the courthouse in Lima's San Juan de Lurigancho prison. Proceedings resume tomorrow.

Militants firebomb opposition office

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide shot at a school run by Haiti's opposition leader and lobbed firebombs at an opposition office yesterday, raising the stakes in a standoff between the government and its opponents.

At least four persons were reported wounded in the violence, which opposition leader Gerard Gourgue accused the government of orchestrating in a quest to return Haiti to dictatorship.

Mr. Gourgue, leader of the 15-party opposition alliance called Convergence, barricaded himself with his family and about 50 students in the school.

New Chiapas peace bid announced by Fox

MEXICO CITY President Vicente Fox began a new peace initiative yesterday for the southern state of Chiapas, inviting Zapatista leader "Subcommander Marcos" for talks and urging Congress to do the same.
Mr. Fox also announced the closure of three military bases in Chiapas and the release of political prisoners, in compliance with conditions the leftist rebels had set for a restart of peace talks that collapsed in 1996.
The address came one day after Marcos announced he and other Zapatista commanders would return to their strongholds Friday, two weeks after their triumphal arrival in the Mexican capital following a peaceful march from the southern state of Chiapas.

Hundreds left dead after Burundi battle

BUJUMBURA, Burundi More than 160 bodies were found yesterday in a suburb of Burundi's capital where government troops a week earlier drove out rebels who seized control of it for more than 12 days, local officials said.
Hutu extremist fighters of the National Liberation Front (FNL) on Feb. 24 seized Kinama in the biggest rebel attack on the capital since 1995 and held parts of the suburbs for 12 days.


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