Bantleman to appeal Indonesia court ruling: lawyer

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A lawyer for a Canadian teacher ordered back to prison in Indonesia said the man plans to appeal a Supreme Court ruling that overturned his acquittal on charges of sexually abusing three children at a prestigious international school in the country.

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Neil Bantleman and his Indonesian colleague Ferdinant Tijong were sentenced to 10 years in prison last April by the South Jakarta District Court, but were acquitted by the High Court in August.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittals and ordered them to serve 11-year prison terms -- a turn of events Bantleman's family described as "inhuman."

A lawyer for the two men said Friday that the pair and their legal team will request a judicial review after studying the verdict and gathering new evidence.

"We believe the verdict was reached without a careful and thorough examination," Patra M. Zein said. "We are awaiting a copy of the verdict to study it."

Zein said they would try to obtain the results of a medical examination of one of the alleged victims by a clinic in Belgium, which found no sign of sexual abuse.

Bantleman, who surrendered to authorities in Bali, was taken Friday to Cipinang Prison, the same prison in eastern Jakarta where Tjiong was placed Thursday.

His wife, Tracy, described the verdict as "inhuman, ridiculous and absurd."

"Neil and Fredy are honourable men, they are innocent. The Supreme Court's decision is shocking," she said, sobbing.

"Do you know what it is like to accompany your husband who is innocent ... to willingly come back to prison? It is a double nightmare. It's the cruelest thing," she said.

Canada and the United States have both expressed shock at the Supreme Court decision.

Bantleman and Tjiong were arrested in July 2014 following allegations by the parents of a six-year-old student that the child had been sodomized.

Four male janitors at the school were sentenced to eight years in prison in the same case and a woman received a seven-year sentence as an accomplice. Police said a sixth suspect killed himself in custody by drinking bathroom cleaner.

The South Jakarta District Court threw out a civil lawsuit in which the child's parents sought $125 million from the school for alleged negligence.

The school in southern Jakarta 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.


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