Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Six Australians accused of murder will not have to return to Peru [ W4llppr ]

The six Australians accused of murdering a Peruvian man in Lima have won the right to give statements on the case from Australia and avoided becoming the subjects of an Interpol red notice after a Peru court ruled in favour of their appeal against extradition.

A statement from the group, dubbed the “Peru Six”, revealed they would be permitted to give statements via video link rather than having to return to Peru, where they have said they fear they will not get a fair trial.

The statement said they could not reveal the decision of the judges to allow them to remain in Australia until it had been formalised. “This is a really important win for us and we are so happy and relieved,” it read.

Sam Smith, Harrison Geier, Andrew Pilat, Hugh and Tom Hanlon and Jessica Vo have been accused by Peruvian authorities of involvement in the death of a doorman who fell from a balcony at the Lima hotel where they were staying in 2012.

Initially the death of Lino Rodriguez Vilchez was ruled suicide, but after the six Australians returned home they became suspects in a homicide case. The family of 45-year-old Vilchez maintain the Australians attacked and threw him from the balcony after an argument about noise. Local television labelled them killers.

The six maintain their innocence and the case has attracted international attention.

Peruvian courts seeking extradition of the six served subpoenas in July. The judge repeated threats to issue an Interpol red notice after they launched an appeal. There have been high level talks about the case between the Australian and Peruvian governments.

“We are working with our Peruvian and Australian legal teams, Dfat, the attorney general’s office, the Australian embassy in Peru and the Peruvian courts to facilitate the procedure. It is a complicated undertaking but we will get there,” the group’s statement said.

The mother of Hugh and Tom Hanlon, Teresa Hanlon, told Fairfax Media they were overwhelmingly relieved.

“It’s a real positive because this is, in effect, what we have been battling this whole time … to simply give our statements from Australia,” she said.

Hearing dates are set for 5, 6 and 7 November.