World

Former Jakarta Intercultural School teachers sent back to jail on sodomy charges

Jakarta:  Two former teachers at the prestigious Jakarta Intercultural School have been re-sentenced to jail for allegedly sodomising three preschool boys, in a decision that will send shock waves through the expat community.

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teacher's aide Ferdinant Tjiong were sentenced to 10 years in prison last year for molesting the boys between January 2013 and March 2014.

Teachers jailed for sodomy - again

Two former teachers at the prestigious Jakarta Intercultural School have been re-sentenced to jail for allegedly sodomising three preschool boys.

The conviction was overturned in the High Court last year and the two men were released in August after nearly a year in jail.

But Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said the Supreme Court had upheld the original ruling in the Jakarta District Court.

Ferdinand Tjiong, left, and Neil Bantleman, right, photographed in 2014.
Ferdinand Tjiong, left, and Neil Bantleman, right, photographed in 2014. Photo: Michael Bachelard

He said the defendants had been found guilty of molestation and sentenced to eleven years' jail - more than the original sentence - plus fines of 100 million rupiah ($10,000) or an additional six months in prison.

US Ambassador Robert Blake said he was shocked and disappointed by the decision.

"In August 2015 the Indonesian High Court found that there was not sufficient evidence to support the teachers' conviction," he said.

"It is not clear what evidence the Supreme Court used to overturn the High Court's decision."

Ambassador Blake warned the outcome of the legal process would impact international views about the rule of law in Indonesia.

The Jakarta International school community has rallied behind the two men insisting they were innocent.

The case attracted intense international scrutiny because the Jakarta Intercultural School, the largest international school in Indonesia, is attended by the children of diplomats, expats and wealthy Indonesians.

A prosecution witness, "sexologist" Dr Naek L. Tobing gave evidence to the Jakarta District Court last year that Bantleman only had sex with his wife once a week, when the "norm" was every day or two to three times a week.

As he also did not masturbate he would be seeking sexual outlets, he claimed.

"There is a question how could he release his sexual desire," Chief Judge Nur Aslam Bustaman said in the Jakarta District Court last year.

"These conditions could create abnormal sexual behaviour."

It was alleged that Bantleman sexually abused the boys in a room on the second floor of the administration building, and a nearby kitchen.

Bantleman was said to have inserted a "magic stone" into the anus of one of the boys to anaesthetise him before he was raped.

Due to the effect of the magic stone, the child said he felt numb from his bottom to the back of his thighs but still had the sensation of something being inserted into his anus.

An Australian expert, provided by the defence, said the children had been asked suggestive questions when questioned about the sexual abuse which could have given them false memories.

Tjiong had been arrested at his residence in Tangerang Selatan early Thursday morning, Jakarta prosecutor spokesman Waluyo was quoted in news website detik.com as saying.

Bantleman was yet to be apprehended.