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Neil Bantleman more hopeful after inconsistent testimonies, wife says

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman is hopeful that he will be declared not guilty of sexually assaulting children in Indonesia, his wife tells CBC News after the latest session of his trial wraps.

Kids are changing their stories and father won't answer questions directly, Tracy Bantleman says

Tracy Bantleman speaks to CBC from Jakarta, Indonesia where here husband Neil stands trial for the sexual assault of three children at a school where they both taught 5:37

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman is hopeful he will be declared not guilty of sexually assaulting children in Indonesia, his wife told CBC News after the latest session of his trial wrapped today.

"He is quite fearful of the outcome of the trial, but he is feeling a little better today," Tracy Bantleman said from Indonesia, following her husband's six-hour hearing.

Bantleman, the Burlington, Ont., native who also appeared in court last week, is accused of sexually assaulting three students while working at the Jakarta International School. Ferdinand Tijong, a teaching assistant at the school, is also standing trial, at the same time, for the same crimes. 

He is quite fearful of the outcome of the trial, but he is feeling a little better today.- Tracy Bantleman, wife of Neil Bantleman

One of the boys involved in the alleged accusations, identified only as DA, and his mother testified via video conference on Tuesday. The child's father testified in court. 

"The child seemed to be looking to his mother throughout the testimony and looking to his mother for confirmation to his response," Tracy Bantleman said, based on information from her husband.

Only the three judges presiding over the case, court staff and those directly involved in the case and their lawyers are allowed into the courtroom, due to Indonesian law governing child sex assault cases, according to Neil Bantleman's brother, Guy Bantleman. 

A diplomat from the British Embassy acquired the necessary paperwork to access the courtroom earlier in the trial, but was denied entry to the court on Tuesday, Guy Bantleman said.

The opaque nature of the court proceedings is "absolutely" a concern, he said.

Accusers' stories are inconsistent, wife says

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      The boy's testimony was inconsistent and illogical, according to Tracy Bantleman. She says the location of the alleged assault changed in the boy's various testimonies, and that he testified his alleged attacker had a skeleton tattoo, but Bantleman does not have one.  

      Tracy Bantleman believes this could be a case of child abuse hysteria, or improper or suggestive questioning of these children throughout the investigation.

      "The children are changing their stories," she said after Tuesday's testimonies.  

      DA's father, a German, was reportedly "confrontational" during his testimony, during which he avoided direct questions and tried several times to "take command of the court to tell his story."

      The man entered the Jakarta court dressed in a dark suit with a red tie, and wore dark black sunglasses.

      According to Neil Bantleman, the father was "repeatedly admonished" by the judges for not following the rules of the court and refusing to give clear yes or no responses.

      Five janitors at the same school have already been sentenced to lengthy jail terms in a similar sexual assault trial involving one of the same victims — a six-year-old boy.

      The Jakarta International School is attended by around 2,400 students, many of them children of foreign diplomats, expatriates and Indonesia's elite. Prior to working in Indonesia, Bantleman was a teacher at Webber Academy in Calgary for 10 years.

      Canadian government should do more: Tracy Bantleman

      Neil Bantleman’s wife is also urging the Canadian government to change its tactics and do more for her husband.

      "It is time for the Canadian government to issue a statement of concern," Tracy Bantleman wrote in a letter to the government on Sunday.

      "He is innocent, and the Canadian government approach should reflect that fact."

      The Canadian government didn’t issue an immediate response.

      Her remarks come on the heels of a powerful statement from the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Robert Blake, that was critical of the trial.

      "The outcome of these cases and what it reveals about the rule of law in Indonesia will have a significant impact on Indonesia’s reputation abroad," Blake said in a statement to CBC Hamilton.

      Tracy Bantleman points out, in her letter, that her husband has been given vocal support from the U.K. and Australian governments as well. Guy Bantleman, Neil’s brother, said all three governments issued vocal support back in July, when Neil was first arrested.

      The pair also received more support from the U.S. on Monday, when the deputy chief mission for the U.S. Embassy visited the two men at the Cipinang jail where they are being held.

      The Canadian government has said it’s providing consular assistance to the Bantlemans while they are in Indonesia, but has declined to state a firm position on the court case.