An alleged child victim testified in a marathon court session in today in Jakarta, a continuation of the sex assault trial of a Canadian who taught at an international school in Indonesia.
Burlington, Ont., teacher Neil Bantleman’s trial lasted for more than eight hours Tuesday, his family said in an email to CBC News.
According to the family, the child — who is referred to as MAK — gave three hours of testimony via teleconference, alongside his father.
Bantleman’s family says the child, the latest to testify, was having difficulty retelling events as documented in the minutes of his examination with the police investigators.
"It seems the parents and investigators have made illogical interpretations of stories they have extracted from the children through repetitive and suggestive questioning,” Bantleman’s wife, Tracy, said in an email. “I believe the parents have made inaccurate judgments and baseless accusations. There has been zero evidence to support their claims.”
Bantleman was arrested in July along with an Indonesian teaching assistant, and both are accused of sexually abusing three students at the Jakarta International School.
Both men have maintained their innocence. The school's principal and a number of fellow teachers also say the two are innocent.
|More than 100 people supporting Bantleman and Tjiong|
Bantleman's family has pointed out that Bantleman and the assistant, Ferdinand Tjiong, were only arrested after the parents of one of the alleged child victims failed in their efforts to reach a financial settlement with the school over alleged abuse by school janitors.
As noted in a few previous reports, suing (or blackmailing) people for child sex abuse is a rapidly growing cottage industry in Indonesia. I strongly suspect that this case is exactly that.
Bantleman’s brother, Guy Bantleman, said there was also testimony Tuesday from MAK's mother, who initially made claims her son was repeatedly raped by the school janitors in March 2014. He says the mother later changed her claims to include his brother and Tjiong.
He says video and photo evidence was introduced by Bantleman's defence team that shows the mother — referred to as TPW — leading her child and police through a late-night re-enactment of the alleged crimes, pointing to show the boy where to go and directing the police.
But he says when the defence tried to show the evidence, the prosecution objected and the defence team was asked to wait until later in the trial.
|Neil Bantle and Indonesian interpreter in court|
Details from Neil’s brother also said that DA (alleged victim) described an attacker with a skull tattoo on their arm and back – tattoos neither Bantleman nor Tjiong have.
DA’s father, a German man identified as OA, also testified Tuesday. Siahaan called his testimony “irrelevant” to the judge’s questions, and added the father wasn’t aware of his child’s daily activities. DA's father, was reportedly "confrontational" during his testimony, during which he avoided direct questions and tried several times to "take command of the court to tell his story."
The man entered the Jakarta court dressed in a dark suit with a red tie, and wore dark black sunglasses. According to Neil Bantleman, the father was "repeatedly admonished" by the judges for not following the rules of the court and refusing to give clear yes or no responses.
Mahareksha Dillion, another lawyer for Bantleman and Tjiong, said Tuesday’s testimony provided further evidence of an odd case against the pair.
“The testimonies provided by DA and his father today increasingly show how this case is beyond strange,” Dillion said. “They have accused people as criminals without any real facts or evidence. This case is an extreme threat to the rule of law in Indonesia.”
As in previous sessions, Guy Bantleman says more than 100 parents, students and school staff came to the South Jakarta Court. But he says Canadian Embassy officials were denied access to the courtroom.
Bantleman and Tjiong could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
|Bantleman and Tjiong being escorted to court|
Their trial is expected to last three months, during which Bantleman's family is urging Ottawa to publicly declare its support for the Ontario man.
Bantleman taught in Calgary for 10 years before working at the Jakarta International School.
Bantleman was first brought into Jarkarta police headquarters for questioning on July 14.
Just as his court case began, five janitors who were also charged with sexual assault were found guilty and face up to eight years in prison for the rape of a kindergartner. Six janitors were arrested in April.
Their lawyers have called their verdicts unfair and have vowed to appeal.
One died in custody, reportedly after drinking bathroom cleaner.