Indonesia jails cleaners over school sex abuse

Afrischa Setyani, the only female cleaner among five defendants, reacts after judges sentenced her to seven years in jail in Jakarta on December 22, 2014 after being found guilty of assisting in violence and sexual abuse of children.

JAKARTA - Five cleaners were jailed on Monday over the sexual abuse of a young boy at one of Indonesia's most prestigious international schools, in a scandal that has rocked Jakarta's expatriate community.

In separate hearings, judges told the South Jakarta district court that four male cleaners - Agun Iskandar, Virgiawan Amin, Zainal Abidin, and Syahrial, who goes by one name - were "proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing sexual abuse and violence on minors".

They were each sentenced to eight years in jail and a fine of 100 million rupiah (US$8,000).

Afrischa Setyani, the only female cleaner among the five defendants, was earlier Monday "found guilty of assisting in violence and sexual abuse of children", presiding judge Mohamad Yunus said.

"We sentenced her to seven years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah ($8,000)," he added.

Their sentences were lower than the prosecutors' recommended 10 years.

Their trials began in August, following the first allegation in April that cleaners had raped the six-year-old nursery school boy at the Jakarta International School, which has long been favoured by expatriates and wealthy Indonesians but is now facing the worst crisis in its 60-year history.

Several of the cleaners who originally confessed have since recanted, claiming they were beaten by police.

The family of the abused boy is suing the school and seeking $125 million in damages.

Their lawyers said their clients were innocent and would appeal.

The school's workers union in a statement said medical reports from four hospitals "stated that there was no evidence of sexual abuse" and called for the cleaners and their families to appeal to the High Court.

"We believe the truth is there and there will always be a way to uncover it," union representative Rully Iskandar was quoted as saying.

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

Canadian Neil Bantleman, an administrator at the school, and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, are also on trial separately, accused of sexually assaulting children. They deny the charge.

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