Trans Harvard graduate on HONEYMOON dies of ‘failure of bodily functions’ in notorious Bali jail after cannabis arrest

BALI, INDONESIA: Rodrigo Ventosilla, 32, a Peruvian activist and Harvard Kennedy School graduate student, died in hospital custody on August 11 just five days after being arrested with his wife, Sebastian Marallano, at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Denpasar International Airport for allegedly transporting cannabis-derived products. Authorities say Ventosilla had a ‘failure of bodily functions’, while the families of the duo, who were in Bali for a honeymoon, alleged the couple were ‘victims of police brutality’ and the arrest was an act of racial discrimination. and transphobia.


According to statements by police spokesman Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto to Reuters, Ventosilla was being investigated for drug-related offenses after suspected cannabis-derived products were found in his luggage on August 6. Two days after the arrest, Ventosilla began complaining of stomach pains and vomiting. , and was rushed to Bhayangkara Hospital where he died, according to the NY Post. Setianto said, quoted by The Harvard Crimson, “The cause of death is a complete failure of bodily function which causes impaired kidney function and impaired liver function and nervous system of the patient’s brain.”



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Ventosilla was a founding member of the Peruvian trans rights organization Diversidades Trans Masculinas and was pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, according to The Harvard Crimson. Ventosilla and Marallano’s families released a statement Aug. 30, saying, “We do not know the true cause of his death as Indonesian authorities have not authorized an independent autopsy.” They said the authorities were not transparent about his condition while stating: “Indonesian police have blocked access to the hospital at all times for lawyers hired by the family, as well as Harvard students who are come to their aid.” The families further wrote that Ventosilla was arrested for possession of prescription drugs he used as mental health medication. “Ventocilla and Marallano, his wife, were denied vital human rights such as health, freedom, access to legal defense,” the statement said.


Marallano was also hospitalized days after being detained by police, the families said, adding that “Bali police demanded exorbitant sums of money of up to $200,000 to free Ventosilla and Marallano.” They also pointed to Peruvian consular services in Indonesia, which “did not show up to provide support” until they received news of Ventosilla’s death. “The consulate’s actions were late, negligent and hampered the family’s request for assistance when Rodrigo [Ventosilla] was still alive,” the statement said while accusing authorities of “police brutality … racial discrimination and transphobia.”


As Reuters reported, the Peruvian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday August 31 that Indonesian authorities had been urged to strictly respect “the human rights of its two nationals,” but added that the initial detention “ does not correspond to acts of violence”. racial or transphobic discrimination”.


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