Neil Bantleman: Decision on civil case delayed

But charges against the prominent lawyer are prompting a review of his cases, which is encouraging news for Bantleman's supporters

Supporters encouraged as charges prompt review of the lawyer's cases

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman sits in a holding cell before his verdict in a South Jakarta court April 2, 2015. The verdict came after a four-month trial that critics say was fraught with irregularities, raising foreign investors' concerns about legal certainty in Southeast Asia's biggest economy. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

A decision in a civil suit against the school Neil Bantleman worked at has been delayed and is now expected on Aug. 9.  

Meanwhile, bribery charges against the lawyer who put the case forward are prompting a review of his previous cases, which is encouraging news for Bantleman's supporters. Word of the delay came from Guy Bantleman, the former teacher's brother.

The Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) is facing a $125-million lawsuit launched by the mother of a child who brought the allegations of sexual assault against Bantleman and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong.

Two weeks ago, OC Kaligis, the defence lawyer who represents the plaintiff in the civil suit against the school, was charged with bribery. Jakarta Post reporter Indra Budiari said that as a result of those charges, Kaligis' previous cases are being reviewed by legal authorities and that review will include Bantleman's case. It will also include the related case that resulted in convictions against five school janitors for similar allegations.

Bantleman, a Burlington, Ont. native who was working at the international school with his wife Tracy Bantleman, is appealing his conviction after he was sentenced to a decade behind bars in a maximum security prison in Indonesia.

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting a group of young boys at JIS--which he has denied. The verdict came after a four-month trial that critics say was fraught with irregularities.  Six janitors at the school were also charged with sexual assault involving allegations from the same boys. One died in custody, while the other five are serving prison sentences. 

"It is uncommon for us to see a lawyer charged with bribery," Budiari said in an email to CBC News. "As far as I know Kaligis have never been charged in any bribery case. He is one of the most senior lawyers in the country who once became lawyer of former President Suharto."

Suharto ruled over Indonesia for three decades. In the 2008 obituary in the New York Times, Suharto dictatorship was described as "one of the most brutal and corrupt of the 20th century."

Guy Bantleman, Neil's brother says word of the review is encouraging, but he still expects a decision to be made in the civil suit. 

Neil has been in police custody since July 2014. He and Indonesian teaching assistant Tjiong are serving 10-year sentences for sexual assault of the JIS students. The school has 2,400 students who are mainly the children of international diplomats, the wealthy, or other foreigners living in Jakarta.

If the judge rules against JIS, the school's lawyer says it would bankrupt the school, according to Budiari.

A decision against the school wouldn't immediately put the institution into default, as it can appeal the decision to the High Court and later, the Supreme Court, Guy Bantleman said.


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