Bali police denied accusations of violence against a Harvard University transgender activist on Thursday 25th August 2022.
The man was found dead at a hospital on the island days after being arrested.
The Peruvian man was initially noted by local media as a woman but was in fact a man named Rodrigo Ventocilla. He was headed to Bali for his honeymoon when he was detained by Ngurah Rai Customs and Excise officers for bringing traces of marijuana in several forms.
Meanwhile, Ventocilla’s husband, Sebastián Marallano, was also detained when he arrived on a separate flight, due to his efforts helping Ventocilla.
The 32-year-old man’s family, quoted in a statement on Instagram, accuse Bali authorities of “police violence… racial discrimination, and transphobia“. They also stated that the confiscated items were “linked to his mental health treatment, for which he had a prescription from healthcare professionals”.
According to Reuters, Bali police spokesman Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto stated that two days after the arrest, “Ventocilla fell ill after ingesting medication that was not part of the items confiscated by police then immediately rushed to a hospital and died on 11th August because of failure of bodily functions.”
Ventocilla’s family continued that their appeal had been dismissed when they asked to conduct an independent post-mortem to confirm the cause of death and they were barred legal defence and information throughout the ordeal.
Furthermore, according to their statement, the Bali police appealed for “exorbitant sums of money” in order to release the newlyweds, an accusation which has not been responded to by authorities.
Setianto said that no violence was experienced by Ventocilla and the case is now closed. Marallano is believed to be back in Peru.
Ventocilla’s family is seeking a rigorous investigation from the Peruvian Foreign Ministry while the head of the Peruvian consulate in Bali has not responded to their messages.
“It is widely known that Indonesia has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to possession of drugs and their derivatives,” stated the ministry in light of accusations of transphobia, quoted by BBC.