February 26, 2016 / 4:13 AM / 4 years ago

Canadian teacher re-arrested on sex abuse charge to return to Jakarta prison

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A Canadian teacher is expected to return to a Jakarta prison on Friday, a family member said, a day after Indonesia’s Supreme Court overturned his acquittal on charges of sexually abusing kindergarten children at an international school in the capital.

Tracy Bantleman, the wife of Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman, reacts during a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

On Friday, the teacher’s brother said there is a plan to appeal the ruling through a judicial review.

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

“Along with others, we have made repeated calls to ensure this case is handled in a fair and transparent manner,” British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik in a statement on Friday.

“Yesterday’s development adds to serious questions about transparency and consistency in the rule of law in Indonesia.”

The United States and Canada have expressed similar concerns. U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake said “it is not clear what evidence the Supreme Court used to overturn the (previous) decision.”

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong were convicted on charges of abusing kindergarten students at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), where the children of many expatriates, diplomats and wealthy Indonesians are enrolled.

The two were originally sentenced to 10 years in jail but were acquitted by the Jakarta High Court in August 2015, after nearly a year behind bars, and released. The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that they be re-arrested and increased their sentences to 11 years.

“Neil returned to Jakarta late Thursday evening and is now with the prosecutor. He will likely return to prison on Friday,” said his brother, Guy Bantleman.

Tjiong was re-arrested early Thursday.

Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Nicholas Owen; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Michael Perry and Richard Borsuk

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