FM Retno Tells Canadian Govt to Stay Out of JIS Case

JUNE 22, 2016

Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the Canadian government cannot intervene in the case involving Neil Bantleman, a Canadian teacher currently serving an 11-year prison term for sexually abusing kindergarten children at the Jakarta Intercultural School.

The decision was purportedly made at a joint meeting with Coordinating Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti and the head of the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, Sudung Situmorang.

"The parties at the meeting collectively came to the conclusion that the Supreme Court's decision in the case is legally binding and it must not be interfered with," Retno told reporters at the offices of the security ministry in Jakarta on Wednesday (22/06).

In addition, at the request of Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion on June 3, a copy of the Supreme Court's decision was sent to the Canadian government on June 9.

"This is a legal matter and as we know in all democratic countries — including Canada and Indonesia — the government is not able to intervene in matters decided by the judiciary," Retno said. She added that the relevant parties may file a judicial review as the next available legal recourse.

Bantleman and teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, who is an Indonesian citizen, were convicted on charges of sexually abusing kindergarten students at the school.

The two were originally sentenced to 10 years in jail and taken into custody in July 2014, but they were acquitted by the Jakarta High Court and released in August 2015, after nearly a year behind bars.

However, the Supreme Court reinstated their sentences on Feb. 25, adding another year for each.

The case, which critics say was fraught with irregularities, has brought the country's justice system under scrutiny, with Western nations raising concerns about legal certainty in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

The United States Embassy-linked school is popular among expatriates, diplomats and wealthy Indonesians, who are closely tracking the case.

The embassy criticized the court's ruling, while the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta called the decision "unjust" and said the case had not been handled transparently.