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Jakarta Post

JIS teachers cite case irregularities in defense statement

  • Indra Budiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 20, 2015   /  07:02 am

Two teaching staff members at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) have maintained their innocence in a trial on the sexual abuse of minors in which the prosecutor has demanded that they be sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In the 532-page defense document presented to the court on Thursday, defendants pointed out a number irregularities in the investigation and charges, reiterating that there was no solid evidence of the charges against them.

Canadian Neil Bantleman and Indonesian Ferdinant Tjiong said the prosecutors had built the case based on the stories of three pupils who claimed to be victims in a case engineered by their parents.

'€œThere is not sufficient evidence to prove molestation occurred as alleged by the prosecutors,'€ the document said.

Bantleman and Ferdinant both read their defense statement during a closed-door hearing at the South Jakarta District Court on Thursday to counter the sentence demand made by prosecutors at the previous hearing.

Last week, the prosecution team said Bantleman and Ferdinant had violated Article 82 of the 2014 Child Protection Law by sexually abusing three pupils, repeatedly, at the international school in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, between January 2013 and March 2014, or for 15 months.

The prosecutors claimed that the evidence was on their side and they had no doubt that the defendants would be convicted.

The defense insisted that the indictment was baseless and closely related to a separate civil suit filed by the family of one alleged victim. The civil suit demands US$125 million in compensation from the school for the harm reportedly done to the boy.

'€œThe judges must consider a $125 million lawsuit filed by the mother of one of the boys as motive for dragging the teachers into this criminal case,'€ the defense statement read.

The lawyers also said in the document that the '€œmagic stone'€, supposedly a drug that the prosecutors and the police claim was used by the defendants to keep the children from feeling any pain during the alleged assaults, was no more than a '€œfantasy of children that has been used by their parents'€.

The Jakarta Police, who insist on the so-called magic stone'€™s existence, have never presented such a drug to the defendants.

Furthermore, the defense statement also said a '€œsecret room'€, which according to mother of one alleged victim was one of the crime scenes, was actually a file cabinet room where the school'€™s administration staff used to gather. The room was demolished during renovations in June 2013.

'€œOne witness also said during a raid in June 2014 that the police were surprised that the administration room had clear glass walls, and commented that it was unlikely that the crime took place at the location due to the lack of privacy,'€ it said.

Shortly after the hearing, one of the defendants'€™ lawyers, Hotman Paris Hutapea, said a medical test in Singapore in May 2014 had revealed that the rectum of one of the boys showed no signs of sexual abuse and emphasized that it should be a major consideration to exonerate the defendants.

The defense also stated that the mother of one of the boys told police investigators in June last year that she went to her son'€™s class every day to help him in craft. She also said that she never witnessed her son being abused.

In the last pages of the defense statement, the defense team asked that the judge acquit the defendants from all charges.

A verdict is scheduled to be made on April 2.

The child sexual abuse case broke out in April last year, after one mother held a press conference claiming that her son had been molested at the prestigious school.

A few days later, the Jakarta Police arrested six outsourced cleaners, one of whom later died while in police custody.

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