This update is long, but hopefully provides information to answer a number of outstanding questions.
- Neil is currently being held in an adjacent compound to Cipinang prison, where he was detained during his trial, called Lembaga Pemasyarakatan Cipinang. He is in a cell with 300 other inmates and we hope he will be transferred to a smaller cell in the prison as soon as possible.
- The Supreme Court led by Dr. Artidjo Alkostar, Dr. Salman Luthan, and Suhadi on February 24, 2016 annulled the ruling of DKI Jakarta High Court which had acquitted the two teachers based on facts which indicated that the two teachers were innocent. On August 14th, 2015, the Jakarta High Court overturned a lower court verdict that sentence both men to 10 years in prison, citing that the district court made a shallow, inaccurate and not thorough consideration” in declaring both teachers guilty in the sexual abuse case.
- The recent Supreme Court ruling was made in relation to the travel ban imposed on Neil which expired this past week (February 25th, 2016). Last week, as has been reported by the media, the Prosecutor’s Office had requested that a ruling be issued immediately on the appeal.
- The Supreme Court Judicial Committee website containing case information (http://kepaniteraan.mahkamahagung.go.id) did not include the date of distribution of the dossier. Customarily, a ruling is issued within approximately 2 (two) weeks from the date of the dossier distribution and usually takes longer for cases that are more complex and including those that garner public attention.
- With regard to the Supreme Court (SC)’s ruling on the appeal of the two teachers, Patra M. Zen as legal representative of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinand Tjiong reiterated that his two clients will continue to fight until justice is served. “We are still waiting for the copy of the ruling on the appeal to be sent to the South Jakarta District Court and for us to study it and file for a Judicial Review, “Patra revealed. Patra also said that his side had also received information that MAK had also been examined at a clinic in Belgium. The medical results of the examination turned up negative, that the victim had never contracted sexually transmitted disease. “We are currently trying to obtain the said medical record as it can be treated as a novum, new evidence in the Judicial Review,” Patra said. “We will continue to fight to shed light on the truth. We are certain that Neil and Ferdi are innocent and that they have never committed the alleged crime. Especially since the medical facts that we presented before the court in the first trial indicated that the sexual abuse never took place,” Patra explained.
- A representative of JIS parents also expressed her concerns about the ruling on the appeal made against Neil and Ferdi. Maya Lestari, the representative of JIS students’ parents said that the ruling on the appeal had made justice a rarity in Indonesia. “Since the case first began to emerge, an opinion that positioned JIS in the wrong continued to be built systematically even before the trial began. While none of the medical and legal facts throughout the trial had been able to prove that the case had ground. This is a case of humanity, not a stage on which one can seek spotlight, or money,” Maya said.
- Aside from criminal liability, the mother of TPW who claimed that her son was also a victim seeks US$ 125 million (more than Rp 1.6 trillion) in compensation from JIS. This case was thrown out in the district court and is now currently being reviewed by the High Court of Jakarta.
Statement from Tracy Bantleman
“To be separated from my husband, an innocent man, not once but twice, is truly heartbreaking. We are deeply saddened by the baseless decision of the Supreme Court. The decision made by the panel of judges at the Supreme Court was rushed, reckless, and unjust. Not only is it disturbing, but it is incomprehensible that in less than two days after the panel of judges was selected, a decision was made to overturn the careful and just ruling by the High Court to fully acquit both Neil and Ferdi. There is no evidence in this case against them and from the beginning it has been clear that the accusations are unfounded and absurd. The rearrest of Neil and Ferdi is a profound travesty of justice. They are victims of cruel and impossible stories with a multi-million dollar motive. The stress and anguish suffered by our families, friends and school community is extreme. We have no choice but to hold out hope and believe that the judicial review process will honour the rights of the innocent and deliver justice for Neil, Ferdi and their colleagues. Sisca and I will fight for this injustice to be exposed and for the freedom of our husbands, for as long as it takes.
We are extremely appreciative of the strong statements made by the Canadian Government this week and their high level of engagement. The Canadian Embassy in Jakarta ensured our safety in processing Neil back to Jakarta and continues to work tirelessly on our case at the highest levels. Firm and consistent diplomatic involvement is essential to finding a just resolution to this case and to Neil’s safe return to Canada.”
Statements of Support
In addition to Statements of Support from the Canadian Government, and US Embassy, we have received Statements of Support from the British Embassy and Australian Embassy.
British Embassy statement on the case of Neil Bantleman:
“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court’s acquittal of Neil Bantleman and his Indonesian co-defendant, Ferdi Tjiong. There have been on-going allegations of serious irregularities in the original court proceedings. Along with others, we have made repeated calls to ensure this case is handled in a fair and transparent manner. Yesterday’s development adds to serious questions about transparency and consistency in the rule of law in Indonesia.
Australian Embassy statement on the case of Neil Bantleman:
Ambassador Paul Grigson said that the two teachers from the Jakarta Intercultural School had been acquitted by the Indonesian High Court in 2015.
“We hope due process is followed and a similar verdict is handed down,” he said. “As a founding member of the board of the school we have a significant involvement in the Jakarta Intercultural School and will be following this case closely.”
Canadian House of Commons
We are encouraged to see Neil’s case raised during Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons on Friday February 26th, 2016. Thank you Len Weber (MP Calgary Confederation) for raising the question, and Omar Alghabra (Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) for your response. I am meeting with Mr. Alghabra on Wednesday March 2nd to discuss further Canadian Government action.