The Jakarta Post
The trial for the two Jakarta International School (JIS) teachers accused of sexually abusing three kindergarten students will begin at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.
'The first trial for the teachers will be held on Tuesday. Lawyers Hotman Paris and Patra M. Zen will be representing them throughout the hearings,' JIS lawyer Harry Ponto told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Canadian Neil Bantleman and Indonesian Ferdinant Tjiong have been detained since July 15 after Jakarta Police investigators accused them of drugging the three victims before sexually abusing them on school grounds. The abuse allegedly transpired on multiple occasions.
The two suspects may be charged with assaulting and sexually abusing a child under articles 80 and 82 of the 2002 Child Protection Law, which carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence.
Both men have maintained their innocence throughout the course of the investigation.
Tracy Bantleman and Fransiska 'Siska' Tjiong, the suspects' wives, both said they hoped to see a free, fair and transparent trial that acquits their husbands of all charges.
'Our lives have been torn apart every single day. It's like waking up to another nightmare. Our husbands are tired, they're anxious and they're in jail. This situation has been demoralizing for them. It's the worst allegation that can be made against you, especially as a teacher,' Tracy told the Post.
Siska echoed Tracy's sentiment and added that her children had also suffered.
'Can you imagine if your parents were accused of sexually abusing a child?' she asked.
Tracy added that she wanted Bantleman to be released soon so they could return to Canada and visit his elderly parents, whom they had not seen in a year.
Meanwhile, University of Indonesia law expert Chairul Huda testified Monday at the South Jakarta District Court in a separate trial that the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) clearly stated that a child's testimony could not be used as evidence of a crime.
'A child's testimony cannot be used as evidence according to the code because underage witnesses are not required to swear an oath. Children tend to change their minds a lot and must be accompanied by an expert,' he said after testifying at the hearing of five PT Integrated Service Solutions (ISS) cleaners accused of abusing a kindergarten
student at JIS.
The victim ' who is also the first victim in Bantleman and Ferdinant's case ' has testified twice at the hearings of Afrischa Setyani, Virgiawan Amin, Zainal Abidin, Syahrial and Agun Iskandar; once in person and another time through a video feed.
Chairul explained that a child's testimony could only be used if it corroborated other testimony delivered by adults or led to solid evidence. However, he said it was up to the judge to decide whether to admit the child's testimony as evidence.
Retired detective at Australia's Victoria Police force, Sr. Sgt. (ret) Chris O'Connor, also testified and said children gathered and stored information differently to adults, and thus were prone to suffering false memory syndrome.
O'Connor, who worked on the police force for 36 years and handled numerous sex abuse cases involving children in Australia and abroad, said much research had been done to decrease the chances of children providing convoluted answers.
'[When questioning] you have to build a relationship with the child, you have to use open questions, you can't use leading questions or multiple choice questions,' he said.
O'Connor added that he did not believe the sexual abuse occurred based on the information he was privy to.
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