In­done­sia over­turns sex abuse con­vic­tions


A Cana­dian teacher and an In­done­sian teach­ing as­sis­tant sen­tenced to 10 years in an In­done­sian prison for child sex­ual of­fenses were re­leased Fri­day af­ter a court over­turned their con­vic­tions.

Neil Bantle­man, 45, and Fer­di­nant Tjiong were greeted by tear­ful fam­ily and cheers from friends and dozens of teach­ers from their for­mer school as they walked out of Cip­inang prison in eastern Jakarta.

Bantle­man and Tjiong were con­victed in April by the South Jakarta Dis­trict Court of vi­o­lat­ing In­done­sia’s child pro­tec­tion law. They main­tained their in­no­cence and ap­pealed to the Jakarta High Court. The two men were sup­ported by fel­low teach­ers and the prin­ci­pal at the Jakarta In­ter­na­tional School, now called the Jakarta In­ter­cul­tural School.

“I want to say thank you to you all for be­liev­ing in us,” said Bantle­man, who re­peat­edly hugged and kissed his wife. “We’re happy that the truth has fi­nally come out.”

The re­lease of the men came af­ter the Jakarta High Court over­turned their con­vic­tions of sex­u­ally abus­ing stu­dents who at­tended the school’s kinder­garten and who are now 6 and 7 years old. The school is at­tended by chil­dren of for­eign diplo­mats, ex­pa­tri­ates and In­done­sia’s elite. It has 2,400 stu­dents aged 3 to 18 from about 60 coun­tries.

Hot­man Paris Hu­ta­pea, an In­done­sian lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Bantle­man and Tjiong, had said the sex­ual abuse claims were mo­ti­vated by money. The prin­ci­pal and a num­ber of other teach­ers have al­leged the same. The mother of one of the chil­dren had sued the school for al­leged neg­li­gence and was seek­ing US$125 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion.

“The truth is fi­nally re­vealed and jus­tice has been done,” Hu­ta­pea said Fri­day.

A spokesman for the Jakarta pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said the High Court’s de­ci­sion would be ap­pealed to the Supreme Court.

“We are now study­ing the High Court’s ver­dict and will file the ap­peal within two weeks,” said Waluyo who like many In­done­sians uses one name.


Cana­dian teacher Neil Bantle­man, right, and In­done­sian teach­ing as­sis­tant Fer­di­nant Tjiong, left, raise their hands as they stand with lawyer Hot­man Paris Hu­ta­pea, cen­ter, af­ter they were re­leased from Cip­inang prison in Jakarta, In­done­sia, Fri­day, Aug. 14.

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