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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
JIS’s Bantleman and Tjiong Released
By Meadow Hilley 19-Aug-15
After being held for over a year in an Indonesian prison, Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) educators Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong were released last Friday when the Jakarta High Court overturned their convictions. Bantleman, a Canadian national, served as JIS’s Learning Leader, coordinating the school's service learning program. Tjiong was a teaching assistant. In a decision that shocked the international education community, the South Jakarta District Court sentenced both men in April by to serve a 10-year sentence for allegedly violating Indonesia's child protection law and sexually abusing three young children then enrolled at JIS. Both men vehemently maintained their innocence throughout the ordeal and promptly filed appeals. On Monday, the same district court that had originally convicted them threw out a civil case against the school, brought by the mother of one of the alleged victims, for lack of evidence. This decision, along with that of a Singapore court ruling that Bantleman, Tjiong, and JIS had been defamed by their accuser, both had an impact on the higher court’s decision to free the two men. Timothy Carr, Head of School at Jakarta Intercultural School, had this to say in response to the release of his two staff members: "After enduring 13 months of incarceration for crimes that they did not commit, our friends Neil and Ferdi are now free! While the JIS community collectively fought to reveal the truth, international schools around the world stood in solidarity with us every step of the way. We celebrate the recent High Court decision, and we trust that justice will continue to prevail. Never have we felt more connected to and strengthened by the international education community than we do today. This wonderful news lends new poignancy to Indonesia's "Independence Day" celebrations this week." Read Bantleman's statement of April 2015 here.
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