JAKARTA, Indonesia — Another alleged child victim testified today at a trial for a Canadian teacher accused of sexually abusing three students at an international school in Indonesia.
The family of Neil Bantleman, who is from Burlington, Ont., says in an email to The Canadian Press that today’s court session in Jakarta lasted for more than eight hours.
They say the child — referred to as “MAK” — gave testimony via teleconference for more than three hours, accompanied by his father.
Bantleman was arrested in July along with an Indonesian teaching assistant, and both are accused of sexually abusing three students at the Jakarta International School.
Both men have maintained their innocence and the school’s principal and a number of fellow teachers also say the two are innocent.
The Canadian teacher’s brother, Guy Bantleman, says the child who testified today was reportedly having difficulty re-telling events he previously told investigators.
Bantleman’s family has pointed out that Bantleman and the assistant, Ferdinand Tjiong, were only arrested after the parents of one of the alleged child victims failed in their efforts to reach a financial settlement with the school over alleged abuse by school janitors.
The janitors have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison following their separate but related trial. Their lawyers have called their verdicts unfair and have vowed to appeal.
Guy Bantleman says testimony was also heard today from MAK’s mother, who initially made claims her son was repeatedly raped by the school janitors in March 2014. He says the mother later changed her claims to include his brother and Tjiong.
He says video and photo evidence was introduced by Bantleman’s defence team that shows the mother — referred to as “TPW” — leading her child and police through a late-night re-enactment of the alleged crimes, pointing to show the boy where to go and directing the police.
But he says when the defence tried to show the evidence, the prosecution objected and the defence team was asked to wait until later in the trial.
As in previous sessions, Guy Bantleman says more than 100 parents, students and school staff came to the South Jakarta Court. But he says Canadian embassy officials were denied access to the courtroom.
Both Bantleman and Tjiong could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Their trial is expected to last three months, a time during which Bantleman’s family is urging Ottawa to publicly declare its support for the Ontario man.
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