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Guy Bantleman fights for his brother's freedom in Ottawa

The brother of a Canadian teacher currently serving an 11-year-sentence in Indonesia for a crime he says he didn't commit is in Ottawa, speaking to whoever he can to find a way to bring his brother back home.

A diplomatic solution is the only way forward: Guy Bantleman

Tracy Bantleman is able to visit her husband Neil Bantleman almost daily as she fights for his freedom. (CBC)

While Neil Bantleman sits inside a prison cell in Indonesia for a crime he says he didn't commit, his brother Guy is meeting with government officials in Ottawa, looking for a way to bring Neil home.

Guy Bantleman and his partner Janet Gallucci travelled to the nation's capital on Wednesday to speak with members of parliament and other government officials about Neil.

Neil Bantleman and Indonesian assistant teacher Ferdinand Tjiong were originally sentenced to 10 years in prison, charged with sexually abusing children at a private school in Jakarta in 2014. In August 2015, they were acquitted by the Jakarta High Court and released after nearly a year behind bars. Last month, the Supreme Court overturned that acquittal and added an extra year to each of their sentences.

Guy said he's already spoken to a number of members of parliament including Judy Sgro, from York West; Len Webber, from Calgary Confederation and Karina Gould, from Burlington.

"I want them to continue to escalate Neil's case and highlight what's gone on and how inhumane it is, how unjust it is," he said in a phone interview.

Friday afternoon he was to meet with officials from Global Affairs Canada to keep pushing his brother's case into the spotlight.

He said the Indonesian legal system "doesn't have the wherewithal to solve this problem." The only way we're going to bring Neil home is through some sort of diplomatic solution, he said, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

"We're past the stage of the 'wait and see.' We need to take action and move this forward as quick as possible."

Living in 'deplorable' conditions

Guy said he hasn't been able to talk to his brother since Neil turned himself in to Jakarta police on Feb. 25. Neil has no access to a phone and it's very difficult for Guy to arrange a phone meeting with him. Guy said he's hopeful he'll be able to connect with his brother over the next few days.

Tracy Bantleman, Neil's wife, has been able to visit him in prison almost daily and bring him food. Guy said Tracy describes her husband's living conditions as "deplorable."

People are seeing the inequities in law and due process in Indonesia and that frightens people.- Guy Bantleman

"It's not the same conditions that we faced previously. They seem to be much harsher," he said.

"Mosquitos, the heat, the cleanliness overall — I think that all encapsulates that (deplorable) comment," Guy said.

Prior to moving into a cell within the prison, Neil and Tjiong were held in a camp beside the prison with around 300 other inmates. Guy said his brother slept on a yoga mat on the concrete floor.

"I would assume the (current) cell conditions are very similar to that," Guy said.

A bad reputation

Guy said his brother's story has had an impact on the global community and has hurt Indonesia's reputation as a tourist destination.

"People are seeing the inequities in law and due process in Indonesia and that frightens people," he said.

Neil and his advocates will be filing a judicial review within the coming weeks, bringing forward evidence uncovered by a CBC Fifth estate investigation into the case. 

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