LIMA, Peru — Prosecutors said Thursday they have opened an investigation into the death of a Peruvian transgender man who died this month after being detained on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.
Peru’s public ministry said the investigation by prosecutors who specialize in human rights will include an autopsy on Rodrigo Ventocilla, which was requested by LGBTQ activists amid allegations by the man’s family that he was tortured by Indonesian police.
Authorities in Indonesia have denied these claims, saying Ventochila was not abused or mistreated. He is said to have died in hospital on August 11 after complaining of stomach pains and showing signs of depression while in custody.
Peruvian officials said the investigation would look into allegations that Ventocilla suffered torture at the hands of two police officers and that Peru’s consul in Jakarta failed to fulfill his duties to protect Ventocilla. The inquiry will also look into claims that Ventochilla’s Peruvian husband, Sebastian Maralanod, was tortured.
Julio Arbizu, a lawyer for Ventocilla’s family, said the investigation follows a torture complaint the family filed this week with the human rights prosecutor’s office.
Peru can assert jurisdiction in cases of alleged torture, even if they occurred in another country. Peru and Indonesia are among the more than 150 countries that have signed the UN Convention against Torture.
Ventocilla, a 32-year-old student at Harvard University, was detained on August 6 at the island’s airport after arriving on his honeymoon with Maralano. Maralano was also detained when he tried to help Ventocilla.
Authorities said Ventocilla’s body had left Indonesia and was scheduled to arrive in Lima on Friday.
Luzmo Henriquez, a representative of the deceased’s family, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that relatives believe he died as a result of torture.
“He was detained because of his gender. The ID did not match his appearance. This made him a suspect to the Indonesian police. He was blackmailed, tortured and died,” Henriquez said.
Indonesian authorities deny any act of violence or discrimination. “Everything went according to standard operation,” Stephanus Satake Bayu Setianto, a Bali police spokesman, said on Monday.
Officials in Indonesia said customs officials found a package of Ventochila brownies they suspected might contain cannabis and handed it over to police. Authorities said Ventocilla was taken to a hospital on the morning of Aug. 9.
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