Canadian school teacher Neil Bantleman has had his acquittal overturned by Indonesia’s supreme court, Global News has learned.
Bantleman and an Indonesian teacher had been acquitted of sexually abusing students at an international school in Jakarta after having been convicted in a case that has had many twists and turns.
Speaking by phone from Burlington, Ontario, Bantleman’s brother Guy confirmed the court overturned the acquittal and that the news came as a blow when he heard it Tuesday night.
“It was[a] shock – we were fairly confident that we were going to see the decision upheld and Neil returned to Canada.”
“We’re not sure how in-depth or what sort of review went through with the file,” Guy said. “Today we’ve been spending trying to figure out next steps in terms of Neil turning himself over to authorities again and where we go from here.”
Bantleman and Ferdi Tjiong had been sentenced to 10 years last April by the South Jakarta District Court. But they maintained innocence and filed appeals to the High Court, which acquitted them in August.
Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said Thursday a three-member judge panel handed down a verdict Wednesday based on the prosecutors’ appeal and increased their sentence to 11 years.
The two teachers also were ordered to pay a $7,440 fine each or to serve six more months in jail.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion released a statement early Thursday morning calling the ruling appalling.
“The Government of Canada is deeply dismayed and shocked that the Supreme Court of Indonesia has overturned the Jakarta High Court’s acquittal of Neil Bantleman and his Indonesian co-accused, Ferdi Tjiong, based on lack of evidence,” Dion said.
“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.”
“Despite Canada’s repeated calls for due process, this case was not handled in a fair and transparent manner,” said Dion.
“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 cooperation with Indonesia.”
The foreign affairs minister said Bantleman will continue to receive consular assistance as the case proceeds.
WATCH: Former colleagues of Neil Bantleman at Calgary’s Webber Academy are reacting to the news of his rearrest in Indonesia. Gary Bobrovitz reports.
Bantleman has lived in Ontario and Alberta, and spent time teaching at Calgary’s Webber Academy where staff and students say he was a beloved teacher.
Bantleman and teaching assistant Tjiong were convicted of abusing kindergarten students at the Jakarta Intercultural School.