Australian and Indonesian media outlets are awash with the news that convicted Australian drug convict Schapelle Corby may soon be released from prison on parole to live with her Bali-based sister and brother-in-law.
Officials have been busy taking preparatory steps to clear the way for Corby’s release, including gathering letters of support from the Australian Embassy, Corby’s family and the Balinese community in which she will live, and a formal inspection of the Kuta residence where Corby will spend her period of parole.
Schapelle Corby was sentenced to 20-years in prison in 2005 after being caught with 4.2 kilograms of marijuana in her baggage at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport. Routine sentence reductions, including a five-year sentence cut granted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, mean that the Australian is now technically eligible for parole.
Parole has, however, never been given to a foreign national due to complications regarding immigration and manpower rules which normally require any foreign national convicted of a major crime transported immediately upon release from prison to the nearest airport for deportation.
As reported by The Jakarta Globe, “special treatment” being extended to Corby has prompted national legislators to call on the government to confirm a high level deal has been made between Jakarta and Canberra to facilitate Corby’s releases.
Poempida Hidayatulloh Djatiutomo, a Commission III member of the House of Representatives and charged with oversight on legal affairs said, “The way I see it, there is a closed foreign agreement.”
The legislator is also pushing for details of any deal to ensure that Indonesians held in Australian prisons are receiving reciprocal courtesies as part of the supposed deal.
Poempida added: “As long as the deal is our interest and benefits the Indonesian people, the people may support it.”
Another House member, Eva Kusuma Sundari, accusing President Yudhoyono of keeping secrets from the public, is also questioning plans for sentence cuts and early release.
Whether Schapelle Corby is eligible for sentence reductions remains a heated topic in anti-narcotics circles who that claim the Australian’s conviction of a serious narcotics crime and her refusal to publicly recant her crime make her ineligible for any shortening of her sentence.
Law No. 43 of 1999, and as amended by Law No. 99 of 2012 on Government Regulations on the rights of prison inmates, states that remissions, work release programs, and early release can only be given when the prisoner has paid all fines imposed by the courts and the prisoner has agreed to work as a "justice collaborator" by sharing full details of his or her criminal activities and networks with law enforcement officials. Finally, the prisoner must also make a written promise to the Indonesian government not to repeat his or her crime in the future.
Schapelle Corby has steadfastly insisted her innocence during her trial and the entire period of her imprisonment making any remission in the term of her sentence problematic due to her failure to recant and cooperate with police.
Corby apparent exemption from the basic requirement to express remorse for her crime, further fuels speculation that he case is receiving special treatment at the highest possible level.
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