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Neil Bantleman's lawyers call child's testimony 'bizarre'

Lawyers for a Canadian teacher on trial for sexual assault of kindergarteners at an Indonesian school called the child’s testimony in the second day of trial “bizarre.”

Bantleman, a Burlington, Ont. native taught in Calgary for 10 years

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman is on trial in Indonesia, charged with alleged sex assaults of children at an international school. (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Lawyers for a Canadian teacher on trial for the sexual assault of three children at an Indonesian school called the testimony of one child in the second day of trial “bizarre,” and the case itself a threat to the rule of law in the country.

Neil Bantleman, a Burlington, Ont. native who taught in Calgary for 10 years before working at the Jakarta International School (JIS), where the alleged sexual assaults were said to have happened, stood trial for the second day on Tuesday.

He, as well as Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong, waited nearly four months without charges by police in Jakarta. The two men were held in detention before charges were laid, relating to the alleged sexual assault of three school children at Jakarta Indonesia School (JIS), a school mostly attended by children of foreign diplomats, expats and Indonesia’s elite.

They have accused people as criminals without any real facts or evidence. This case is an extreme threat to the rule of law in Indonesia.- Mahareksha Dillion, lawyer for Neil Bantleman

Details provided by Neil Bantleman’s brother Guy Bantleman, outline a day where one of the victims, identified as DA, testified by teleconference. Henock Siahaan, lawyer for Bantleman and Tjiong, said the child’s testimony deviated at times.

“The victim was inconsistent about the alleged crime scene. Sometimes he would say it was at the teacher’s office, and other times in the toilet upstairs and downstairs," Siahaan said.

Father testifies

Details from Neil’s brother also said that DA described an attacker with a skull tattoo on their arm and back – tattoos neither Bantleman nor Tjiong have.

DA’s father, a German man identified as OA, also testified Tuesday. Siahaan called his testimony “irrelevant” to the judge’s questions, and added the father wasn’t aware of his child’s daily activities. Mahareksha Dillion, another lawyer for Bantleman and Tjiong, said Tuesday’s testimony provided further evidence of an odd case against the pair.

“The testimonies provided by DA and his father today increasingly show how this case is beyond strange,” Dillion said. “They have accused people as criminals without any real facts or evidence. This case is an extreme threat to the rule of law in Indonesia.”

Bantleman was first brought into Jarkarta Police headquarters for questioning on July 14. Just as Bantleman’s court case began, five janitors who were also charged with sexual assault were found guilty and face up to eight years in prison for the rape of a kindergartner. Six janitors were arrested in April. One died in custody, reportedly after drinking bathroom cleaner. 

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