Neil Bantleman moved to shared cell in 'deplorable' Indonesian prison

Tracy Bantleman says the conditions inside Lapas Cipinang prison are "deplorable" and she's concerned her husband's health could deteriorate rapidly while he's there.

Tracy Bantleman calls prison conditions 'deplorable'

Neil Bantleman's brother Guy and his mother Corinne met with the Parliamentary Secretary for Global Affairs Omar Alghabra (centre) in Mississauga on March 4. (Janet Gallucci)

Tracy Bantleman says the conditions inside Lapas Cipinang prison are "deplorable" and is concerned her husband's health could deteriorate rapidly while he's being held there.

Her husband, Neil Bantleman, a Burlington Ontario teacher, was recently moved to the third floor of Lapas Cipinang prison in Jakarta. He and Ferdinand Tjiong, an Indonesian teaching assistant, were convicted in 2014 on charges of abusing kindergarten students at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), where the children of many expatriates, diplomats and wealthy Indonesians are enrolled.

In an email update, Neil's brother Guy said his brother and Tjiong are sharing the cell with an inmate convicted on drug charges. Before being transferred to this cell, the two were being kept in a mass holding compound adjacent to the prison with around 300 other people.

In this new setting, Bantleman and Tjiong are able to receive meals prepared by friends and family. Tracy is able to visit Neil on a daily basis for up to two hours and bring basic supplies and food with her.

On Aug. 14, 2015, the Jakarta High Court overturned a lower court verdict that sentenced both men to 10 years in prison, faulting the district court in ignoring key evidence in the case. Bantleman was freed but had to stay in the country.

The, On Feb. 24, 2016, the Supreme Court annulled the ruling of the Jakarta High Court which had acquitted Bantleman and Tjiong. The pair were taken into custody and an additional year was added to each of their sentences.

'Relentless' efforts being made to bring him home

In Guy's update, he said Canadian Ambassador Donald Bobiash visited Neil in the Jakarta prison on Feb. 29 to let them know the Canadian government will be "relentless" in their efforts to bring Neil home.

Back in Canada, Guy said he and his mother met with Parliamentary Secretary for Global Affairs Omar Alghabra in Mississauga on Friday.

"Mr. Alghabra reiterated Canada's commitment to Neil's case and provided assurances to the family that the government is working at the highest levels to ensure a just and speedy resolution to this case," Guy wrote in his latest update.

At that meeting, Neil's mother gave Alghabra a hand-written letter and asked him to deliver it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In it, she asks the prime minister to bring Neil and his wife Tracy back to Canada as soon as possible.

Guy and his partner will be travelling to Ottawa this week for meetings with various members of parliament and the Department of Global Affairs.

Next steps

Bantleman and his advocates are now waiting for the Supreme Court to write and deliver the full verdict to the South Jakarta District Court. Guy said this process is expected to take up to a month, but once the verdict is delivered, Neil's lawyer can access the document and prepare for a judicial review. 

In for a judicial review to be filed, new evidence needs to be brought forward. Guy said the review will include new evidence uncovered by a CBC fifth estate investigation.