12-year jail terms sought for 2 teachers accused of abuse at Indonesian international school

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian prosecutors on Thursday sought 12-year jail terms for a Canadian teacher and an Indonesian teaching assistant accused of sexually abusing three young children at a prestigious international school.

Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, who have been in detention since July, say they are innocent, as do a number of fellow teachers and the principal at the Jakarta International School. They are being tried on charges of violating the Child Protection Law, which provides a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

Prosecutors told reporters after a hearing Thursday that the 12-year sentences were being sought because as teachers they had traumatized the victims.

"As teachers they have to set a good example, instead of committing deeds that cause trauma to the students that takes a long time to treat," prosecutor Ade Rohimah said.

Defense pleas are scheduled for next week.

In December, five janitors at the school were sentenced to up to eight years in the same case.

They were arrested last April following reports from the parents of a 6-year-old boy who said he had been sodomized. Police said a sixth suspect in that group committed suicide while in custody by drinking bathroom cleanser.

The school is attended by children of foreign diplomats, expatriates and Indonesia's elite. It has 2,400 students aged 3 to 18 from about 60 countries.

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