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Petitioning Attorney General, Peru Dr. José Antonio Peláez Bardales

Dismiss the murder case against the wrongly accused six young Australians


20 months ago, we were just six friends travelling South America but became victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in Lima, Peru.

Sadly the doorman at our rented apartment, Mr Lino Rodriguez Vilchez, fell to his death during our stay there. In June 2012, three months after we had all returned home to Australia from our trip we found out through YouTube that the family of the late doorman were accusing the six of us of murder. Over the past 15 months we have –
• Engaged a Peruvian and Australian legal team
• Endured the stress and reputation damage of being called murderers and assassins by the family and supporters of the deceased
• On a number of occasions observed the presiding Judge request the police and prosecutor conduct a thorough and proper investigation of the case; and they repeatedly refused to do so
• Engaged a UN Forensic specialist to conduct a forensic investigation which categorically concludes it was physically impossible to have committed the crime
• Presented the forensic report to the court where it is only now being considered
• A number of witnesses have appeared and testified in court confirming that there is nothing in the police reports or witness statements that implicates the six in the death of the doorman
• Launched a media and social media campaign to tell the world the facts of our plight, to garner support and seek the attention and appropriate action from the key decision makers

It is very distressing that despite our actions and the absolute lack of any evidence against us we are still being accused of the murder and the Peruvian Judge is demanding we return to Lima to give statements in court.

We are seeking from Peruvian District Attorney, Dr. Jose Antonio Pelaez Bardales:
1. That the Public Minister review all the evidence and submissions that have been made to the court
2. To instruct the Prosecutor to review exhaustively all the evidence without considering the pressure of the media. Furthermore, instruct him to analyse in depth all the proofs and exculpatory evidence with the aim of dismissing the accusation and request the dismissal of the case based in a total lack of proof that in any way links the Australians with the death of Mr Lino Rodriguez Vilchez.
3. Finally we ask the Prosecutor’s office to cooperate with our request that the statements must be taken in Australia.
We ask you to please support us by signing and sharing this petition. 


Note that the petition letter is in Spanish however here is the English version for you to read prior to signing the Spanish version -


12 September 2013


Dear Dr. Jose Antonio Pelaez Bardales

District Attorney


Jessica Vo, Sam Smith, Andrew Pilat, Harrison Geier and brothers Hugh and Tom Hanlon are six young Australians who have been falsely accused of the murder of a Peruvian whilst they were holidaying in Lima in January 2012. 

Mr. Lino Rodriguez Vilchez, was the doorman in the Mallorca apartment building where the six Australians had booked two nights rented accommodation.  The Australians had just completed a four day trek along the Inca trail to the ruins of Machu Picchu. 

Upon arriving at the apartment in the early afternoon of 19 January, they spent a couple of hours settling into the apartment and made two trips to the shops to purchase food and drinks for their two night stay.  They had very limited interaction with the doorman as they came and went from the building and on returning from a second shopping trip, Mr. Rodriguez was not at his post in the foyer. 

A couple of minutes after entering the apartment they heard a noise, looked out the window and saw a body on the ground.  It was later in the afternoon that they were informed that it was the doorman who had fallen to his death. 

After the police and investigators made a number of visits to the apartment over the ensuing hours and upon returning the following day, the group contacted the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Embassy in Lima through one of their parents.  The Embassy contacted the Lima police who advised them that the six were not required to give statements and were free to continue their travels in Peru and Sth America.  They left the apartment two days after the incident as previously planned and continued with their existing travel itineraries.  The death was ruled by police as a suicide.

Following agitation from the Rodriguez family, the police re-opened the investigation in March 2012. At no stage did the police attempt to get statements from the Australians. The six found out via social media in June 2012 that the family of the deceased had started a public campaign calling the six “murderers”, accusing the 6 of fleeing the country and demanding that they return to Peru.   

Over the past 14 months, the six have been fighting the allegations, engaging lawyers and UN Forensic expert Jose Pablo Baraybar to conduct a full forensic report because the police and prosecutor have failed to do so after repeated requests by the presiding judge.  In the past month a number of witnesses, including the forensic police, have given statements to the court. 

The forensic report and statements from the witnesses prove that there is not one piece of evidence that implicates the six in the death of the doorman.  What exists is a big amount of evidence demonstrating that is very probable that the cause of death was a suicide. However, this hypothesis was never investigated by the Police. What is more serious, the evidence that demonstrated the suicide and was given by the neighbors, was inexplicably hidden by the Police. 

At all times, the six have shown great respect for the Peruvian judicial system, believing that based on the facts that the case would not proceed and be dismissed.  However this has not been the case and, despite the lack of evidence, three requests have been made for the six to appear in court in Peru to give statements.  Given the 6 young Australians have work, study commitments and financial constraints, appeals have been lodged requesting statements be given from Australian via video link or in written form. The Australian Government has stated its willingness to facilitate this and has repeatedly requested a fair, transparent and prompt resolution to this case.  The second appeal is being heard on September 19, 2013.

Sir, in your capacity as the head of the Judicial system in Peru, it is with the utmost respect that we ask you –

1.      That the public Minister  review all the evidence and submissions that have been made to the court

2.      To instruct the Prosecutor to review exhaustively all the evidence without considering the pressure of the media. Furthermore, instruct him to analyse in depth all the proofs and exculpatory evidence with the aim of dismissing the accusation and request the dismissal of the case based in a total lack of proof that in any way links the Australians with the death of Lino Rodriguez.

3.      Finally we ask the Prosecutor’s office to cooperate with our request that the statements must be taken in Australia.

There is no proof. The Australians are innocent. the case has gained the interest of an international audience and the continuation of the situation is proving very damaging to the reputation of your country. 


[Your name]


Letter to
Attorney General, Peru Dr. José Antonio Peláez Bardales
12 de septiembre de 2013

Dr. José Antonio Peláez Bardales , Fiscal de la Nación

Jessica Vo, Sam Smith, Andrew Pilat, Harrison Geier y los hermanos Hugh y Tom Hanlon son 6 australianos que han sido falsamente acusados del asesinato de un ciudadano peruano mientras se encontraban de vacaciones en Lima en Enero de 2012.
El señor Lino Rodríguez Vílchez era el portero del Edificio Mallorca donde los australianos reservaron dos noches de hospedaje. Los australianos acababan de completar un viaje de cuatro días por el Camino del Inca hasta las ruinas de Machu Picchu.
Después de llegar al apartamento temprano en la tarde del 19 de Enero, pasaron un par de horas acomodándose e hicieron dos viajes a la tienda para comprar comida y bebidas para su estadía de dos noches. Ellos tuvieron poca interacción con el portero cuando salieron y llegaron al edificio y a su retorno de su segundo viaje de compras el señor Rodríguez no se encontraba en su puesto en la recepción.
Minutos después de haber entrado en el apartamento oyeron un ruido, miraron por la ventana y vieron un cuerpo en el suelo. Fue mas tarde ese mismo día cuando fueron informados que había sido el portero quien había muerto.
Después de que la Policía y los investigadores hicieran varias visitas al apartamento durante las siguientes horas y regresaran al día siguiente, el grupo de australianos contactó al Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Comercio y a la Embajada de Australia en Lima a través de la madre de uno de ellos. La Embajada contactó a su vez a la Policía de Lima que les confirmó que los seis australianos no estaban siendo requeridos para prestar declaraciones y eran libres de continuar su viaje por Perú y Sur América. Dejaron el apartamento dos días después del incidente como estaba previamente planeado y continuaron con los itinerarios de viaje ya existentes. La muerte fue calificada por la Policía como un suicidio.
Cediendo a la presión de la familia Rodríguez, la Policía reabrió la investigación en Marzo de 2012. En ningún momento la Policía intento tomar declaraciones a los australianos. Los seis se enteraron a través de las redes sociales en Junio de 2012 que la familia del difunto había empezado una campaña pública llamando a los australianos “asesinos,” acusándolos de volarse del país y exigiendo su regreso al Perú.
Durante estos 14 meses, los seis australianos han estado luchando contra las alegaciones, contratando abogados y al experto forense de Naciones Unidas José Pablo Baraybar para conducir un reporte forense completo ya que la Policía y la Fiscalía han fallado en hacerlo después de varios requerimientos por parte del Juez. Durante el mes pasado varios testigos, incluyendo la Policía forense, han presentado testimonios en el Juzgado.
El reporte forense y los testimonios de los testigos prueban que no hay una sola pieza de evidencia que implique a los seis australianos en la muerte del portero. Existe abundante evidencia que demuestra que es muy probable que se trate de un suicidio. Sin embargo, esta hipótesis jamás fue investigada por la Policía. Lo que es más grave, la evidencia entregada por los vecinos, que demostraba la tesis del suicidio, fue ocultada por la Policía, de forma inexplicable.
En todo momento, los seis australianos han mostrado gran respeto por el sistema judicial peruano, creyendo que basados en los hechos, el caso no procedería y sería desestimado. Sin embargo, este no ha sido el caso y a pesar de la falta de evidencia, se han enviado ya tres requerimientos a los australianos para presentarse en el Juzgado de Lima a presentar sus testimonios. Dado que ellos trabajan, estudian y tienen limitaciones financieras, se han presentado apelaciones a estos requerimientos pidiendo que las declaraciones sean tomadas desde Australia a través de video o por escrito. El Gobierno Australiano ha confirmado su voluntad de facilitar la toma de las declaraciones y repetidamente ha pedido por una justa, transparente y pronta solución a este caso. La audiencia de la segunda apelación tendrá lugar el 19 de Septiembre de 2013.
Doctor, en sus facultades como cabeza del sistema judicial peruano, es con el más debido respeto que le pedimos:
1. Que el Ministerio Público revise con carácter urgente toda la evidencia y los requerimientos presentados al Juzgado.
2. Instruir a la Fiscalía para que se revise la evidencia de forma exhaustiva, sin presiones mediáticas. Además, que se analice a profundidad, tanto las pruebas de cargo como las de descargo. Con el propósito de desestimar la denuncia y solicitar el sobreseimiento del proceso, frente a la total ausencia de evidencia que, en forma alguna, pueda vincular a los australianos con la muerte de Lino Rodríguez.
3. Finalmente, solicitamos que la Fiscalía, colabore con nuestra postura de que las declaraciones sean tomadas en Australia.
No existe prueba alguna. Los australianos son inocentes. El caso ha atraído el interés de la audiencia internacional y la continuación de esta situación seria muy dañina para la reputación de su país.
Muchas gracias.


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