Neil Bantleman, right, hugs his wife Tracy, left, after he was released from Cipinang prison in Jakarta, Indonesia on Aug.14, 2015. The family of Bantleman, a Canadian teacher jailed for years in Indonesia on disputed sexual assault charges, says the man is back in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Achmad Ibrahim

Neil Bantleman returns to Canada after years in Indonesian prison

Global Affairs declined to comment on Neil Bantleman’s release

A Canadian school teacher who spent the past five years in an Indonesian prison on child sex abuse charges he’s long denied said Thursday that he had returned to Canada after being granted clemency.

Neil Bantleman issued a brief statement saying the government of Indonesia, where he once worked and had expected to spend more than a decade in prison, had recently allowed him to go free.

“Five years ago I was wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes I did not commit and furthermore never occurred,” Bantleman said in the statement. “I applied for clemency which I am pleased was granted by Indonesia last month upholding essential justice and human rights.”

Bantleman, 50, did not immediately provide details on his current location or the circumstances of his release, and requested privacy so he and his wife Tracy could focus on reconnecting with family and friends.

His return to Canada marks the end of a lengthy saga that centred around a prestigious international school in the Indonesian capital and ultimately involved considerable legal wrangling as well as lobbying from Canadian government officials.

Bantleman, who is from Burlington, Ont., was first arrested in July 2014 while teaching at what is now known as the Jakarta Intercultural School, an educational hub for the children of diplomats and other expatriates.

Bantleman was accused of sexually assaulting three male students at the school.

He was initially convicted and handed a 10 year prison sentence, but was released after the decision was overturned.

He was put behind bars once again when Indonesia’s highest court quashed his acquittal in 2016. In doing so, court officials added one year to his prison term and sentenced him to 11 years behind bars.

At that time, the federal government issued a statement saying it was “deeply dismayed and shocked” at the ruling.

An Indonesian teaching assistant, Ferdinant Tjiong, was arrested on the same charges and prosecuted alongside Bantleman.

The Canadian teacher’s family vehemently defended the innocence of both men, maintaining that both were the victims of a corrupt Indonesian justice system.

Bantleman’s family had previously said federal officials were raising their relative’s plight with their counterparts in Indonesia, but no word of negotiations had been released for months prior to his return to Canada.

Global Affairs declined to comment on Bantleman’s release, but the teacher himself offered thanks to the government for what he described as its “steadfast commitment to seeing us home.”

Bantleman and Tjiong were not the only ones arrested in the case.

Four male janitors at the school were sentenced to eight years in prison, while a woman received a seven-year sentence as an accomplice. Police said a sixth suspect died by suicide while in custody.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

In photos: Uptown Askew’s Family Day

The Uptown Askew’s Family Day event was filled with classic cars, face… Continue reading

CSRD to support cannabis growth in agricultural zones

Regional district revision brings policy in line with Agricultural Land Commission

Word on the street: Has the wet July weather put a damper on your summer any?

Due to the wetter-than-usual July weather, the Observer asked: Has the wet… Continue reading

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

South Shuswap residents kick waste collection concept to the curb

Area C residents prefer existing depot system, suggest more enforcement

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Okanagan e-scooter company foils robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations in Kelowna

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Donkeys await your hugs and scritches at anniversary event

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge invites public to help celebrate 20 years of care.

Okanagan school district monitoring McCurdy supportive housing plan debate

Top priority for board of education is to maintain safety integrity of local schools

Most Read