Neil Bantleman, the Canadian man being held in Indonesia after being swept up in a high-profile child sexual assault investigation, will be charged there, his family says.
Bantleman, a 45-year-old from Burlington, Ont., was working as a learning co-ordinator at the Jakarta International Schoo. He has been held without charges for 108 days since being taken into custody in July in connection with allegations that several kindergarten students at the school had been sexually assaulted.
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Guy Bantleman, Neil's brother, was shocked by the news of looming charges on Wednesday morning. While he didn't want to speculate on what the charges could be, he said he's worried about the implications it could have.
The biggest fear is that his brother could be moved to a more dangerous prison with thousands of inmates.
"His safety is of paramount concern to us," Bantleman told CBC Hamilton.
Bantleman also said criminal charges could reduce the Canadian government's ability to intervene in the case, something his family has been calling for.
"The developments over the past 12 hours are very disappointing, but also very fluid at this point," Guy Bantleman wrote.
"I would ask that we take time to understand what has happened and how we will continue our fight for justice and freedom."
Bantleman said the police have committed to presenting the charges within the next 48 hours.
Under Indonesian law, Neil Bantleman would have been released after being held for 120 days, something his mother and brother had both expected.
Could take months
Guy Bantleman said the timing of these charges, after the police and prosecutors handed documents back and forth four times, is "absurd."
He said it could take months before his brother goes to trial.
Jakarta police started the high-profile investigation into the Jakarta International School earlier this year. Six janitors were arrested and accused of raping a young boy in a school bathroom in March, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported.
Later, the parents of two other students filed police reports claiming their sons were sexually assaulted by teachers. The newspaper also reported that one complainant, whose family is suing the school for $125 million US, implicated teachers at the school.
In July, Bantleman and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong were detained and questioned by police for nine hours. They were never released.
Bantleman’s family and school officials have both criticized the investigation, saying authorities lack any evidence.
Still, Bantleman’s passport is being held by police, and his detention has been extended numerous times, even though police have not formally charged him.
The Bantleman family has called on the Canadian government to do more to free Neil.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is providing consular assistance and is engaged with local authorities about the case.