The Jakarta Post
Lawyer for the two teaching staff at Jakarta International School (JIS), Hotman Paris Hutapea, said that his clients' arrest by the Jakarta Police on sexual assault charges was excessive.
He emphasized that the police had no solid evidence upon which to base the arrest.
'This is too much, my clients have always tried to cooperate with the police. The police did not have to arrest them,' Hotman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
After being interrogated for hours, JIS teacher Neil Bantleman and teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong were detained Monday night.
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.
However, Hotman said that these concerns were groundless as there was no chance his clients would run away. 'Come on, the police have exaggerated this. How could the suspects run away as the immigration office is holding their passports,' he said.
Previously, an investigation by the South Jakarta immigration office found some JIS teaching staff had falsified visa data.
The police demanded that the immigration office postpone its deportation of the teachers in question and withhold their passports due to the ongoing investigation into sexual assault at JIS.
The case first came to light when police arrested six outsourced cleaners, one of whom reportedly committed suicide while in police custody, for allegedly raping a 6-year-old boy in a JIS toilet.
The case developed further when the parents of two other kindergarten students filed police reports against JIS teachers claiming their sons were sexually assaulted by them. The first victim has also implicated teaching staff.
Hotman said that the night his clients were arrested, the police had only told him they would be held overnight.
'However, after I left the Jakarta Police headquarters, the police showed my clients the detention warrant and tried to intimidate them,' He said.
It was strange, Hotman said, for the police to show the warrant to his clients without the presence of their legal representative.
Previously, Hotman asserted that the police did not have any conclusive evidence, besides the parents' and psychologist's statements, to charge his clients, much less arrest them.
The three founding embassies of JIS: the US, British and Australian, have expressed their concerned about the detention of Ferdinant and Bantleman, who according to them had been cooperative throughout the investigation.
'We are deeply concerned about the detention of several JIS teachers last night. We believe JIS and its teachers have cooperated with the police and we are surprised at these developments given the presumption of innocence in Indonesian law,' said the embassies in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, during a press conference on the JIS campus in South Jakarta, Bantleman's wife, Tracy Bantleman, said that the police had raided her house and confiscated 'evidence'. However, she still does not know what the police confiscated that could be classified as evidence.
'I have never even been questioned by the police as a witness. [The police should] free my husband because they don't have any strong evidence. My husband has nothing to hide,' she said. (idb)