NEWS

Liberals call for Canadian pressure in Neil Bantleman trial in Indonesia

01/20/2015 08:43 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT
The federal Liberal’s have issued a statement of concern over the trial of Burlington, Ont. man Neil Bantleman, joining a chorus scrutinizing the proceedings that includes the NDP and embassies from other countries.

“I urge the Government of Canada to clearly communicate to Indonesian authorities that we expect the rights of Canadian citizen Neil Bantleman to be respected throughout his trial,” said March Garneau, foreign affairs critic for the Liberal Party, in a statement.

Neil Bantleman faces allegations he and teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong were part of the alleged rape of three kindergarten-aged kids at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), formerly the Jakarta International School.

Bantleman and Tjiong have been in police custody since July 2014, and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial is expected to last three months, during which Bantleman's family is urging Ottawa to publicly declare its support for the Ontario man.

“The embassies of a number of other countries have already expressed concerns about the fact that Mr. Bantleman was detained for three months without any charges,” Garneau said. “I am also alarmed by credible reports of corruption and inhumane prison conditions in Indonesia.

“We expect the Indonesian legal system to conform to international standards of justice and the rule of law and for the Government of Canada to defend the rights of Mr. Bantleman to a fair process.”

Five janitors from the school have been convicted in a related case. Six had been arrested, although one died while in custody. One of the mothers of the accusers has filed a $125-million (USD) civil lawsuit.

Bantleman taught in Calgary for 10 years before working at the Jakarta International School.

Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre and Wayne Marston, MP for Hamilton-Stoney Creek, issued a similar statement earlier this month.

“We urge the Government of Canada to press Indonesian authorities to ensure that Mr. Bantleman’s rights are properly safeguarded throughout his trial, in strict accordance with international norms,” they wrote.

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