Burlington teacher Neil Bantleman released from Indonesian prison

Neil Bantleman returns to Canada after years in Indonesian prison, family says

Neil Bantleman returns to Canada after years in Indonesian prison, family says

The family of Neil Bantleman, a Canadian teacher jailed for years in Indonesia on disputed sexual assault charges, says the man is back in Canada.

Bantleman told the media on Friday that he was granted clemency and has been home with family in Ontario since the end of June, and wishes to maintain his privacy.

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", he said in the statement.

Sri Utami, director general of correctional affairs at Indonesia's Law and Human Rights ministry, confirmed in a text message to Reuters that Bantleman had been granted clemency.

Guy said his brother boarded a plane home "immediately" after his release from prison.

The Canadian government has also been lobbying hard for his release.

Bantleman has maintained his innocence ever since he was accused of abusing three children at an worldwide school in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

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He was initially convicted and handed a 10 year prison sentence, but was released after the decision was overturned. His original sentence was acquitted, then the Supreme Court overturned that acquittal in 2016.

Bantleman and teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong were arrested in 2014 for allegedly assaulting students at JIS.

Bantleman's family consistently maintained both the teacher and his co-accused were innocent and had become victims of a corrupt legal system in Indonesia.

He said his brother's release was kept quiet for weeks because of its "terms and conditions" - which he would not discuss - "bilateral relations, the operation of the school, all important factors to keep this confidential as long as possible".

Bantleman in his statement thanked family and friends around the world for their support and "the government of Canada for their steadfast commitment to seeing us home".

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

The court also rejected a medical assessment from a hospital in Singapore which said there was no sign one of the boys had been sodomised, in favour of a conflicting Indonesian police hospital report.

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