Vig­ils to draw at­ten­tion to man still in In­done­sian jail

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - TIM WHITNELL

BURLINGTON — The fam­ily of a for­mer Burlington res­i­dent who is im­pris­oned in In­done­sia is plan­ning a pair of vig­ils on his be­half in two Cana­dian cities.

The events are planned to mark the two-year an­niver­sary of Neil Bantle­man’s in­car­cer­a­tion. The now 47-year-old was ini­tially de­tained on July 14, 2014, and for the past two years has been in and out of jail in Jakarta.

Bantle­man and his fam­ily main­tain that he is the vic­tim of un­founded ac­cu­sa­tions, an im­proper trial and been de­nied hu­man rights.

Bantle­man and teach­ing as­sis­tant Fer­di­nant Tjiong were found guilty in April 2015 of sex­ual as­sault on three boys at the Jakarta International School.

Both had pled not guilty and con­tinue to de­clare their in­no­cence. Their con­vic­tions were even­tu­ally over­turned with both men re­leased on Aug. 14, 2015.

An ap­peal was launched and the ac­quit­tals were over­turned by the In­done­sian Supreme Court in Fe­bru­ary of this year, with and ex­tra year added to both men’s 10year prison sen­tences.

Guy Bantle­man of Burlington, Neil’s younger brother and the fam­ily spokesper­son, said a protest will oc­cur at the In­done­sian Con­sulate in Toronto on Thurs­day, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“This peace­ful protest is to draw at­ten­tion to this on­go­ing saga and high­light the in­jus­tice and de­nial of hu­man rights,” Guy said in an email.

In Cal­gary, Guy will at­tend a sim­i­lar vigil the same day.

The Bantle­mans’ par­ents, Corinne, 83, and Hugh, 84, live in Burlington, where Neil grew up.

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