Canadian teacher detained in Indonesia for more than two weeks
ASIA / Indonesia – Neil Bantleman, 45, a teacher at the prestigious Jakarta International School has been detained for more than two weeks as the police investigates a case of alleged sexual assault on three kindergarten students.
Alleged sexual assault on six-year-old
The learning coordinator and his colleague Ferdinant Tjiong were brought in for questioning at a Jakarta police station on 14th July. The were detained the next morning. Both have been in police custody since. According to CTV News, the police investigation began with the arrest of six outsourced cleaners accused of allegedly raping a six-year-old male pupil in a school bathroom in March. One of the suspects committed suicide in police custody.
The Jakarta Post reported that the parents of two other students filed police reports claiming their sons were sexually assaulted by teachers. One of the complainants, whose family is suing the school for US$125 million, has implicated teachers. It also reported the lawyer for Bantleman and Ferdinant emphasized that the police had no solid evidence upon which to base the arrest.
Police says current evidence not enough
Jakarta Police criminal investigation director Sr. Comr. Heru Pranoto said that the police were certain they had the two preliminary pieces of evidence required to name Bantleman and Ferdinant suspects. “Even though our current evidence is not enough to formally charge them, additional investigations could lead us to new evidence,” Heru said to the reporters. According to Heru, the police detained Bantleman and Ferdinant to ensure they would not destroy evidence, run away or repeat their crime.
Bantleman’s family have been fighting hard for his release. A petition to the Indonesian president has gathered more than 6500 signatures on change.org. Under Indonesian law, pre-trail detainees can be remanded for up to 60 days. However, investigation is still not completed, and the stage of progress in unknown. The suspects are detained without charge.
The American, Australian and British embassies in Jakarta previously issued a joint statement stating their deep concern about the detention of several JIS teachers. “We believe JIS and its teachers have closely co-operated with police authorities, and we are surprised at these developments given the presumption of innocence in Indonesian law,” the statement read.