Teachers' conviction in Indonesia for child abuse criticised

2015-04-04 08:01


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Jakarta - Questions grew on Saturday over the fairness of an Indonesian court's decision to convict two teachers at an international school for sexual abuse of children.

A Jakarta court on Thursday sentenced Neil Bantleman, a Canadian administrator at Jakarta International School, and Ferdinand Tjiong, an Indonesian teaching assistant, to 10 years each for abusing pupils.

The Jakarta Globe newspaper called the convictions "a gross miscarriage of justice".
"Indeed, anyone in the international community who witnessed this witch hunt play out since last year will be appalled and disgusted at the way the authorities handled the case," it said in an editorial.

The newspaper cited defence claims that the judges refused to admit as evidence the results of medical tests by specialists in Singapore purportedly showing that one of the boys had not been raped.
"Justice has not been served when the judges abrogate their duties and side with xenophobic hysteria at the expense of reason and fairness," the Globe said.

Challenging verdict

The United States and British embassies in Indonesia have also criticised the verdicts.

"Serious questions have arisen in this case regarding the investigative process and lack of credible evidence against the teachers," US Ambassador to Jakarta Robert Blake said late Thursday.

The British embassy said it was "aware of concerns about irregularities" in the case.
Lawyers for Bantleman and Tjiong, who have vehemently denied the charges, said they would challenge the verdicts.

"We will lodge the appeal with the High Court on Wednesday," said Patra Zen, a lawyer for Tjiong.

The school, which has since been renamed Jakarta Intercultural School, is attended by children of wealthy expatriates, including many Americans, diplomats and members of the Indonesian elite.   

Defence lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea said judges had ignored evidence presented by the defence team, including the result of medical examinations performed in Singapore.

The parents of three kindergarten pupils came forward last year with allegations of sexual abuse by members of the teaching staff.

Previous incidents

In December, five former janitors at the school were jailed for between seven and eight years after being found guilty of similar charges.

A sixth janitor died earlier last year in an apparent suicide while in police custody.

The school came under further scrutiny last year after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that a US citizen who worked there for 10 years until 2002 was a prolific child sex offender.

William James Vahey committed suicide in the US last year after authorities found 90 pornographic photographs of boys he had allegedly molested on his hard drive.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  child abuse

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