Neil Bantleman’s acquittal overturned in Indonesia

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said the Canadian government "is deeply dismayed and shocked" by an Indonesian Supreme Court decision to overturn the acquittal of Canadian schoolteacher Neil Bantleman.

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said the Canadian government “is deeply dismayed and shocked” by an Indonesian Supreme Court decision to overturn the acquittal of Canadian schoolteacher Neil Bantleman.

In its decision, the high court also ordered both Bantleman and an Indonesian teaching assistant to serve 11 years in prison instead of the 10 years they initially received for sexually abusing three young children at a prestigious international school in Jakarta.

Bantleman and Ferdinant Tijong were sentenced in April 2015 but maintained their innocence and filed appeals to the High Court, which acquitted them last August.

Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said a three-member judge panel handed down its verdict on Wednesday based on the prosecutors’ appeal.

“The judge panel concluded that the defendants were proven to have violated the 2007 Child Protection Law,” said Suhadi, who uses a single name. “It did not only reinstate the District Court’s verdict but also lengthened the sentence to 11 years.”

The pair were also ordered to pay a $7,440 fine each or to serve six more months in jail.

Under Indonesian law, both Bantleman and Tijong still could challenge the sentence by filing for judicial review by the Supreme Court if they have new evidence.

Bantleman’s brother, Guy Bantleman, said they will get started on the judicial review right away.

“He’s devastated,” Guy Bantleman, speaking from his home in Burlington, Ont., said of his sibling.

“We obviously thought we were very close to the end of this process and from what we understood things were moving in our favour — and this came completely out of left field and caught us all off guard.”

Guy Bantleman was buoyed by Dion’s comments, calling them the strongest words from the Canadian government “since this nightmare started.”

Dion said in a statement early Thursday: “This decision is unjust, given the many grave irregularities throughout the various proceedings in this case and the fact that all evidence presented by the defence has systematically been rejected.”

He said Bantleman and Tijong “were not provided the opportunity to demonstrate their innocence, and despite Canada’s repeated calls for due process, he added, “this case was not handled in a fair and transparent manner.”

Dion also warned that the outcome of this case has “serious implications for Indonesia’s reputation as a safe place for Canadians to work, travel and invest as well as for Canada’s long history of co-operation with Indonesia.”

Dion said Canada would continue to raise the case of Bantleman at the highest levels while Canadian officials continue to provide consular assistance to Bantleman.

Chandra Saptaji, head of the general crime section at the South Jakarta Prosecutors’ Office, said Tijong was taken from his house early in the day and was now serving his sentence at the Cipinang Prison in eastern Jakarta.

“We are still looking for Bantleman, who is actually under a ban to leave the country,” Saptaji said. “Hopefully, he is co-operative and complying with Indonesia law.”

Guy Bantleman said his brother wasn’t in Jakarta at the time and will speak with Canadian consular officials before turning himself in. Guy Bantleman said he will be speaking the Dion’s staff Thursday to figure out the next steps.

U.S. Ambassador Robert O. Blake also expressed disappointment over the verdict, saying the outcome of the legal process will impact international views about the rule of law in Indonesia.

“We are shocked and disappointed by the decision announced by the Supreme Court to sentence two international school teachers,” Blake said in a statement. “It is not clear what evidence the Supreme Court used to overturn the High Court’s decision.”

Bantleman and Tijong worked at the Jakarta International School, which is now called the Jakarta Intercultural School.

Children of foreign diplomats, expatriates and Indonesia’s elite attend the school, which has 2,400 students aged three to 18 from about 60 countries. The school’s principal and a number of other teachers have said they believe Bantleman is innocent.

Last December, five janitors at the school who were arrested in the same case were sentenced to up to eight years in jail. Police said a sixth suspect in that group died by suicide.

Just Posted

‘I was bawling’: Injured Bronco’s mother stunned by his progress after surgery

The mother of a hockey player paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus… Continue reading

Isolated Iceland newly vulnerable to computer scams

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — “Hi, I hope you are not busy?” The treasurer… Continue reading

Two in five indebted Canadians don’t ever expect to escape debt, says survey

TORONTO — A new survey says 40 per cent of indebted Canadians… Continue reading

Study finds microplastics in all remote Arctic beluga whales tested

VANCOUVER — A pioneering study of seven belugas in Canada’s remote Arctic… Continue reading

Federal laws at heart of western anger up for debate as Liberals begin outreach

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly backed up his pledge for… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Opinion: Progress at city hall provides good reason for optimism

In May, the City of Red Deer hired its new city manager,… Continue reading

Some binge-worthy options for holiday gift season

NEW YORK — Chances are there’s at least one TV binger on… Continue reading

Humphries formally selected for USA Bobsled’s national team

Kaillie Humphries is officially part of USA Bobsled’s national team. The two-time… Continue reading

Hamilton receiver Banks leads East domination at CFL awards banquet

CALGARY — After dominating the 2019 regular season, Brandon Banks and the… Continue reading

Binnington makes 40 saves to help Blues beat Flames

Blues 5 Flames 0 ST. LOUIS — Jordan Binnington stopped 40 shots… Continue reading

Local Sports: Broken ankle didn’t hold Sydney Rix back for long

There was some talk going around RDC last season that a major… Continue reading

Sources: Jim Lawson to step down as chairman of the CFL’s board of governors

CALGARY — Jim Lawson’s time as CFL board chairman will end this… Continue reading

Most Read