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Jakarta Post

Prosecutors seek 12 years'€™ imprisonment for JIS teachers

  • Indra Budiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 13, 2015   /  07:40 am
Prosecutors seek 12 years'€™ imprisonment for JIS teachers

Unconditional support: Indonesian teacher'€™s assistant Ferdinant Tjiong (second left) hugs his wife Sisca as Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman (right) walks past prior to the start of their court appearance to hear the prosecutor'€™s demands at the South Jakarta District Court in Jakarta on Thursday. Bantleman and Ferdinant are on trial for the alleged sexual abuse of a kindergartner on the campus of a prestigious school in the capital. AP/Dita Alangkara

Prosecutors have demanded that the panel of judges at the South Jakarta District Court sentence two teachers from the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) to 12 years'€™ imprisonment for their alleged involvement in a sexual abuse of three kindergarten pupils.

In a closed-door hearing that was held on Thursday, a prosecutor who wished to remain anonymous said that Canadian Neil Bantleman and Indonesian Ferdinant Tjiong must be declared guilty in the sexual abuse case as they had violated Article 82 of the 2014 Child Protection Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years'€™ imprisonment.

'€œWe seek 12 years'€™ imprisonment and Rp 100 million [US$10,560] in fines. The fines can be replaced with six months additional jail time,'€ the prosecutor told The Jakarta Post after the hearing.

According to the prosecutor, Bantleman and Ferdinant had committed their crimes individually at the international school in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, between January 2013 and March 2014.

He added that the prosecution team sought harsh sentences for both defendants as that they had been teachers of the three victims and should have been protecting their pupils.

'€œInstead, the teachers have caused major trauma to the children. They [the victims] will need a long time for the healing process,'€ he continued.

The prosecutor said he could not provide further information related to the case and evidence revealed during the trial because the judges prevented him from doing so. However, he emphasized that the evidence was on their side and he '€œhad no doubt they would be proven guilty'€.

Very little information has been available from the trial as Article 153 clause 3 of the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) stipulates that any trial involving a minor or sexual abuse case must be held behind closed doors.

Furthermore, the panel of judges have prohibited any parties involved from making statements to the media outside the court to maintain the trial'€™s '€œprivacy'€. The unusual policy has been repeatedly criticized by advocates and the Judicial Commission.

Henock Siahaan, a lawyer for Bantleman and Ferdinant, said the legal team was ready to deliver their defense statement next week to counter the prosecutor'€™s claims.

'€œWe just don'€™t understand. How come sexual abuse by several people on a pupil in the school did not leave any marks?'€ he said after the hearing.

The prosecutor quickly rejected the lawyer'€™s claim, saying that it would be possible for the teachers to commit sexual abuse in an administrative room in the school without anyone noticing.

'€œThe lawyer can say anything, but the fact is five cleaners in the other case have been proven guilty of committing sexual abuse in that school without anyone noticing it. It is not an impossible thing to do,'€ he said.

In December, a panel of judges sentenced five outsourced cleaning staff members from PT ISS Indonesia, who at the time worked at JIS, to eight and seven years'€™ imprisonment in a related case.

The judges declared that they had collectively and continuously sexually abused a minor, who was also one of the three alleged victims in the teachers'€™ case.

Meanwhile, the five cleaning staffers had repeatedly denied any involvement in or knowledge of the sexual abuse case.

During the case investigation, the police claimed that one suspect, Azwar, committed suicide by drinking cleaning liquid in the restroom while in police custody. However, the other four male cleaners testified during the trial that they had seen Azwar being beaten severely.

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