Canadian accused of child abuse released from Indonesian jail

A Canadian teacher jailed in Indonesia after being convicted of child sexual assault has been freed and returned home after being granted a presidential pardon, an official said Friday.

Neil Bantleman, who also holds a British passport, was released from Cipinang prison in Jakarta on June 21 and returned to Canada later that month.

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"He was granted a clemency from the president and his sentence was reduced from 11 years to five years and one month," justice ministry spokesman Ade Kusmanto told AFP.

Bantleman, 50, was also ordered to pay Rp100 million ($7,000) as part of his original conviction, Kusmanto said.

He was sentenced in 2015 -- along with Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong -- to 10 years for abusing students in Jakarta, in a legal process criticised as fraught with irregularities.

The pair were released on appeal before being returned to jail after the country's Supreme Court reinstated the original conviction -- and increased the sentences to 11 years.

Both men have always maintained their innocence.

They were supported by Jakarta's expatriate community, foreign governments and the international school -- a favourite with foreigners and wealthy Indonesians for decades.

Tjiong is still in prison, awaiting his appeal.

The scandal began in 2013 when accusations were directed at the school's cleaners, before allegations were levelled at Bantleman and Tjiong.

Supporters claim the accusations and convictions were an unfair attempt to target the men by Indonesia's notoriously corrupt police and judicial system.

The Canadian embassy did not respond to AFP's requests for comment.

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