School teachers appeal fails in Indonesia

By February 14, 2006

Indonesia (MNN) — Indonesia’s Supreme Court has rejected appeals lodged by three Christian teachers accused of proselytizing. It was the last hope for the women following last November’s decision by Bandung High Court to refuse their legal appeal.

The judges confirmed the three-year prison sentences for Rebbeca Loanita, Etty Pangesti and Ratna Mala Bangun. The three teachers ran a school in West Java.

On Sept. 1, 2005, they were condemned for having violated the 2002 Child Protection Law. The Indonesian Council of Mullahs accused them of trying to “convert Muslim children to Christianity.” However, none of the children who attended the school have converted to Christianity, and all of the children had written parental permission to participate.

According to human rights activists, the judgment was heavily influenced by the continued presence of Islamic extremists in the school rooms. There are also claims that during trial the prosecution supplied false evidence and that some key witnesses for the defense could not testify because of threats.

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