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Four cleaners on trial in Indonesia over sexual assault of boy at prestigious school

Published on Aug 27, 2014 7:37 PM
 
Indonesian cleaner Agun Iskandar (second right), one of five cleaners charged over allegations of sexual assault, arrives at the South Jakarta Court in Jakarta on Aug 26, 2014. Four cleaners were charged in court Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014, over the sexual assault of a young boy at one of Indonesia's most prestigious international schools, on the second day of trials in a high-profile scandal. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Four cleaners were charged in court Wednesday over the sexual assault of a young boy at one of Indonesia's most prestigious international schools, on the second day of trials in a high-profile scandal.

The crisis at the Jakarta International School, which began in April with allegations that cleaning staff raped the nursery school boy, has rocked an institution favoured by expatriates in the capital for more than 60 years.

Since the first allegation, the scandal has snowballed, with more parents making abuse claims, a Canadian staff member accused and the revelation that a suspected serial paedophile sought by the FBI had taught at the school for a decade.

The family of the nursery school boy allegedly abused, who is now aged six, are suing the school and seeking US$125 million in damages.

Cleaner Agun Iskandar was the first to face court over the scandal when he was charged in a closed-door hearing at the start of his trial Tuesday.

On Wednesday three male cleaners - Virgiawan Amin, Syahrial, who goes by one name, and Zainal Abidin - and one female cleaner, Afrischa Styani, went on trial in separate closed hearings at South Jakarta District Court.

The cleaners face a maximum of 15 years in prison if found guilty of breaking child protection laws, said prosecutor Rahima.

However their lawyers say they are innocent and that at the start of their trials the four men recanted confessions they had previously made, claiming police beat them up.

The female cleaner never confessed, they added. Police insist that they never beat up the cleaning staff, who were hired from an outside contractor.

Mr Patra Zen, lawyer for Amin, told reporters after the hearing that his client "said he was coerced into a confession because he could not tolerate being beaten and abused during the investigation".

A sixth cleaner was implicated in the case but died in custody, with police saying he committed suicide by drinking floor-cleaning fluid.

As well as the cleaning staff, abuse claims have also been made against Canadian Neil Bantleman, an administrator at the school, and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong. They have been in police custody since mid-July.

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