POLITICS

Neil Bantleman's Wife Demands More From Canadian Government

12/29/2014 12:30 EST | Updated 02/28/2015 05:59 EST
Neil Bantleman’s wife is urging the Canadian government to change its tactics and do more for her husband, a teacher who is standing trial for sexually assaulting children in Indonesia.

Bantleman, the Burlington, Ont. native who appeared in court last week, is accused of sexually assaulting three students while working at the Jakarta International School. His trial is set to resume Tuesday morning in Jakarta, which will actually be around 9 p.m. ET Monday.

Tracy Bantleman told CBC News her husband is "very fearful for the eventual outcome" of his trial, despite the lack of any physical evidence in his case.

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 6-year-old boy.

"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 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 Canadian approach has not 'created any positive change'

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

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

"I would like to respectfully request that the Canadian government issue a statement in support of my husband," Tracy Bantleman wrote.

"While I understand that the behind-the-scenes approach the Canadian Embassy is taking is perhaps the embassy policy, the rather more robust approach of the aforementioned U.S, Australian and British embassies seems to be garnering more attention."

That "robust" approach, Tracy Bantleman said, makes a difference. She said a British ambassador was able to sit in on trial proceedings while Canadian officials were shut out. According to Guy Bantleman, no reporters or foreign officials are supposed to be allowed in the courtroom during sexual assault trials involving minors.

"Certainly, their approach provided more comfort to those of us who are at the centre of this injustice," she wrote.

"My concern is that the approach that is being taken has not created any positive change in Neil’s status."

She said the Canadian government has assured her that it continues to meet with its counterparts in Indonesia, and embassy officials have highlighted irregularities with the case and called for a fair trial. 

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