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Jakarta Post

Court dismisses US$125 million JIS lawsuit

  • Indra Budiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, August 11, 2015   /  04:25 pm

The South Jakarta District Court dismissed on Monday a US$125 million civil suit filed against the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) by TP, the mother of a boy who was sexually assaulted by the school'€™s outsourced cleaners and two teaching staff.

A panel of judges, chaired by Haswandi, said that in addition to the international school, the cleaners'€™ recruitment company PT ISS Indonesia and the Education and Cultural Ministry, the mother should have included the five convicted cleaners as defendants in the case.

According to Haswandi, the court would need to hear testimony from the five outsourced cleaners to decide if they would turn down or grant the lawsuit filed by the mother.

'€œThe cleaners who have been accused of sexually assaulting the boy should have been named as defendants, therefore we believe that the lawsuit is lacking some parties and we declare that it cannot be accepted,'€ he said.

The ruling means that the judges have yet to decide on the substance of the case but only on the technicalities of the lawsuit.

The decision came less than a month after the Singapore High Court awarded material compensation for JIS and two of its teaching staff in a defamation case against DR, the mother of one of three victims of sexual abuse.

The court ordered DR to pay S$130,000 ($93,800) in damages to Canadian Neil Bantleman and Indonesian Ferdinant Tjiong and S$100,000 in damages to JIS and the principal at JIS.

The high-profile case began in April 2014 when TP launched a civil lawsuit against JIS, saying that the school'€™s lack of supervision caused her son to be a victim of sexual assault by six outsourced cleaners at the school. She also included ISS Indonesia, Copenhagen-based ISS A/S and the Education and Cultural Ministry as defendants of the case.

The panel of judges did not include former teaching staff Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong in their dismissal notes because the civil lawsuit was submitted by the mother before she and other mothers reported the case against the two JIS teaching staff. In the lawsuit documents the mother only mentioned that her son was assaulted by cleaners.

In the civil case, the mother was represented by high-profile lawyer, OC Kaligis, who is currently charged in a bribery case run by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

In December 2014, the South Jakarta Court declared that five ISS Indonesia cleaners were guilty in the sexual abuse case and sentenced them to seven and eight years imprisonment, while one other cleaner died while in police custody.

Four months later the court also sentenced Bantleman and Ferdinant to 10 years'€™ imprisonment for sexually abusing three kindergarten boys.

Shortly after Monday'€™s trial, Cinta Trisulo, a lawyer with the Kaligis'€™ law firm, rushed out to avoid approaching reporters who asked whether her client would resubmit the lawsuit. She said that she would need '€œto discuss the verdict with the legal team before taking any further action'€.

Indonesia'€™s legal system allows plaintiffs of a civil lawsuit to file a new lawsuit instead of filing an appeal if his lawsuit was declared '€œunacceptable'€ by the court due to technical reasons.

Harry Ponto, a lawyer representing the school, said he appreciated the court'€™s ruling and considered it a victory for his side, saying that it meant the court agreed that the lawsuit should not be accepted.

Harry also said that he hoped the verdict would have a positive impact on the two teachers who have filed an appeal against the criminal verdict as well as the five outsourced cleaners who were still waiting on their cassation verdict from the Supreme Court.

'€œHowever, it would be better for us if the judges considered the substance of the case and turned it down completely, but we accept the verdict nevertheless,'€ he said.