A Fleeting Freedom - This Week on Foreign Correspondent

Sunarti, wife of one of the jailed cleaners, bathing daughter Naibila.
image - supplied/ABCTV

As supporters battle to free seven people jailed in a child abuse scandal at an elite Indonesian school, Foreign Correspondent digs into the evidence – and turns up some surprises.

“I am prepared to offer my personal and professional reputation to unequivocally declare that these seven people did not commit the offences for which they have been convicted.” – former top Australian police detective, interviewed by Foreign Correspondent

The declaration could hardly be more absolute. But the veteran investigator’s evidence for the defence was thrown out by judges who slammed him for “insulting Indonesia’s integrity”.

The seven people he speaks up for - Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman, his assistant Ferdi Tjiong and five cleaners - are all serving long jail terms for allegedly sexually abusing children at the prestigious Jakarta Intercultural School.

Last week Foreign Correspondent presented their story as told by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Now, in part two, come the concluding twists and turns – and some developments unearthed by Foreign Correspondent including:

  • A key prosecution witness alleging that judges misconstrued his evidence in finding that Neil Bantleman was a paedophile;
  • A former commissioner of the official police watchdog agency urging a reopening of the case;
  • A call for the UN to investigate allegations that police tortured the cleaners into making confessions.

Indonesia Correspondent Samantha Hawley also meets two women who come from vastly different worlds but who are united in grief and purpose. Tracy Bantleman lives in Jakarta’s wealthiest precinct; Sunarti is from a tougher part of town. Both are fighting to free their husbands, the teacher Neil Bantleman and the cleaner Agun Iskandar.

“Words cannot explain my sadness. My heart cries.” – Sunarti
“It’s no longer a marathon, it’s an ultra marathon...You really need to pace yourself because it’s exhausting and stressful.” – Tracy Bantleman

“A Fleeting Freedom” - Foreign Correspondent 9.30pm Tuesday June 21 and 10.30am Thursday June 23 on ABC & iview and 6.30pm Saturday June 25 on ABC News 24. Also on iview.