‘Evidence of torture’: Mom of Trans Harvard student who died in police custody in Bali says cops tried to EXTORT son for $200K
BALI, INDONESIA: The mother of a 32-year-old transgender rights activist and a graduate student at Harvard Kennedy School, Rodrigo Ventosilla, who died in police custody at a hospital on August 11 just five days after being arrested with his spouse Sebastian Marallano for allegedly carrying cannabis-derived products, has spoken out. Ana Ventosilla of Lima, Peru, told that Indonesian police attempted to extort her family, asking for $200K for the release of her son.
Talking to The Harvard Crimson, Ana said her son and his spouse were subjected to “physical and psychological violence.” She narrated how on a WhatsApp video call, Rodrigo said that authorities in Bali, where he was on a honeymoon, were demanding $100K for his release. Recalling the call, she told what Rodrigo mentioned. "He said, 'Mom, I’m going to negotiate. I’m going to tell them that I [will] give them $13,000,'" the mother said. However, hours later, the officials had risen the amount to $200K. “It was an extortion,” the mother told the outlet.
Further, the mother said the family, who is now pursuing legal action in Peru, has “evidence of torture." She said, “For us, it is very painful. There is evidence of torture, and we want to clear Rodrigo’s name.”
The arrest of Rodrigo Ventosilla
As previously reported, Rodrigo, who was a founding member of the Peruvian trans rights organization Diversidades Trans Masculinas and was pursuing a master's degree in public administration, was arrested with his spouse at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar for allegedly carrying cannabis-derived products in luggage on August 6, 2022. Two days after the arrest, Rodrigo started complaining of stomach pains and vomiting and was rushed to Bhayangkara Hospital where he died. As per the authorities, he had a "failure of bodily functions," while the families of the duo have alleged that the couple was "victims of police violence" and the arrest was an act of racial discrimination and transphobia.
As reported by Reuters, Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Wednesday statement, August 31, 2022, that Indonesian authorities had been asked to strictly follow “the human rights of its two nationals” but added that the original detention “does not correspond with acts of racial discrimination or transphobic”.