'Wanted' Australians to return to Peru

Last updated 20:05 03/07/2013
Six Aussies most wanted

FACING A NIGHTMARE: Hugh Hanlon, Sam Smith, Tom Hanlon, Andrew Pilat, Jessica Vo and Harrison Geier.

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Six young Australians wanted over the death of a man in Peru have reportedly been told they will be forced to return to South America after losing an appeal.

A judge in Peru has rejected their bid to provide statements to  police from Australia, according to a post on the group’s Facebook page, titled ‘‘Completely wrongly accused’’.

‘‘We are gutted and completely blown away by the bad news we have received from Peru,’’ the group, from Sydney and Melbourne, says in a post published today.

‘‘We have been told by our lawyers that the judge has refused our appeal to provide our statements from Australia.’’

The group says the judge will set a date for them to appear in court in Lima in August.

The woman and five men, dubbed the ‘‘Peru Six‘‘, are suspects in the death of a doorman who fell from the balcony of a Lima hotel in  2012.

Hugh and Tom Hanlon and Jessica Vo, of Melbourne, and Sam Smith, Harrison Geier and Andrew Pilat from Sydney, launched a social media campaign to clear their names after finding out they were wanted by police months after returning from their backpacking trip.

On their Facebook page the group says ‘‘18 months ago we were just six friends travelling South America but became victims of  being in the wrong place at the wrong time’’.

Their page now has more than 27,000 likes.

Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has met with the group.

‘‘There’s been very high level contact between the Australian government and the government of Peru but I can’t comment further,’’  he said last month.

The group says the court decision is a huge setback and they’ve  been threatened with an Interpol arrest warrant if they don’t go back to Peru.

Australia has an extradition treaty with the country.

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