Indonesian Court Overturns Canadian Teacher’s Rape Conviction

Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong
Freed Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong, left, and Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman, center right, are joined by their wives outside Jakarta's Cipinang prison on Friday, Aug. 14. Photographer: Romeo Gacad/AFP via Getty Images

An Indonesian appeals court reversed the sexual-abuse convictions of a Canadian teacher at an international school and an Indonesian teaching assistant and ordered their release after more than a year in jail, the teacher’s lawyer said.

The Jakarta High Court found no evidence for the charges against educators Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, lawyer Paris Hutapea said by telephone Friday. Hutapea said he was coordinating with authorities and hoped the men would be freed later in the day.

The South Jakarta District Court in April convicted Bantleman and Tjiong of violating Indonesia’s child protection law for raping three kindergarten students at the Jakarta International School, now called the Jakarta Intercultural School. The case had triggered concerns about the rule of law in Indonesia and more broadly about the treatment of foreign investments in Indonesia.

A Singapore court on July 16 ruled that the mother of one of the children had defamed Bantleman and ordered her to pay damages, the AP reported. The South Jakarta District Court on Monday threw out the woman’s civil case against the school after evidence from three hospitals in Singapore and Jakarta showed no major injuries or abnormalities in the three children, according to the Associated Press, which reported earlier on the court’s decision to throw out the conviction.

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