Staff at Calgary’s Webber Academy are in shock that their former colleague Neil Bantleman is heading back to an Indonesian jail.
The imprisonment comes after the Canadian teacher had his acquittal on sex charges overturned by Indonesia’s supreme court.
“Two words describe Neil: he was a gentleman, and he was kind,” Dr. Neil Webber, academy principal, said.
“We hope he will be freed eventually.”
Bantleman was a teacher at the Calgary school for 10 years before moving to Indonesia.
Bantleman and an Indonesian teacher had been acquitted of sexually abusing students at an international school in Jakarta after having been convicted in a case that has had many twists and turns. Earlier this week, Indonesia’s Supreme Court overturned the acquittal.
“The last 48 hours have been extremely difficult,” Guy Bantleman said in the statement. “At this time Neil is in Jakarta and in the custody of the Prosecutor. Neil was accompanied by Canadian Consular officials and his legal team as he reported to the Prosecutor’s office late on Thursday.”
In April 2015, Bantleman and Ferdinant Tijong were sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing three young children at an international school in Jakarta. But both always maintained they were innocent and filed appeals to Indonesia’s High Court which acquitted them in August.
Prosecutors’ appealed the acquittal and on Wednesday, a three-judge panel overturned the acquittal and added another year to to the 10-year sentence. The panel also fined Bantleman and Tijong.
Bantleman’s brother said there is still another avenue to appeal the latest court ruling but that diplomatic efforts are also needed.
“The lack of a truly transparent legal process, that is balanced and objective is extremely disappointing, and we will now utilize the diplomatic channels to achieve justice,” Guy Bantleman said in his statement. “While a Judicial Review is an available appeal in this case, and one we will pursue, based on previous experiences with the Indonesian judicial system, we would be cautiously optimistic for a positive outcome.”
WATCH: Liberals tell Indonesian counterparts that overturning Bantleman’s acquittal a ‘miscarriage of justice’
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has said the Trudeau government “is deeply dismayed and shocked” by the court decision, adding in a statement that “this decision is unjust, given the many grave irregularities throughout the various proceedings in this case and the fact that all evidence presented by the defence has systematically been rejected.”
In his statement Thursday night, Guy Bantleman also thanked and acknowledged his brother’s supporters from around the world and said “this fight will go on, and we will not relent until true justice is achieved.”
Bantleman has lived in Ontario and Alberta, and spent time teaching at Calgary’s Webber Academy where staff and students say he was a beloved teacher.
Bantleman and teaching assistant Tjiong were convicted of abusing kindergarten students at the Jakarta Intercultural School.
With files from Global’s Gary Bobrovitz