Ahmed Elbatrawy

Australian has Indonesian jail time cut


Convicted Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby as seen on April 22, 2008, at Kerobokan prison in Denpasar, Indonesia.

(CNN) — Schapelle Corby, the Australian serving time in a Bali, Indonesia, prison on a conviction of drug smuggling, has had her jail term cut by five years.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decree to reduce the former beauty therapist’s 20-year jail sentence to 15 years arrived in a letter on Monday, according to Amzer Simanjuntak, a spokesman of Denpasar District Court.

The decree was dated May 15 and also stipulated that the original 100 million Indonesian rupiah (US$10,700) fine still had to be paid, the spokesman added.

Before entering Kerobokan prison to visit her on Wednesday, Corby’s sister, Mercedes, expressed gratitude for the decision. “Our family would like to say, ‘Thank you,’ to the Indonesian president,” she said. “We now hope to get more information about possible parole for Schapelle, and we hope to get positive news on that. She is very happy.’

The appeal for clemency, which Corby filed on the basis of a medical examination that diagnosed her as suffering from acute depression with psychotic symptoms, comes nearly seven years to the day of her sentencing.

Corby, now 34, was convicted in May 2005 for smuggling nine pounds (4.1 kilograms) of marijuana in a bag while arriving at Bali’s Denpasar International Airport the previous October. She has always maintained her innocence, saying that she was the victim of a drug smuggling operation.

Aside from whether Corby will be eligible for parole — and if so, where she would serve it — the timeframe for her release remains unclear because of remissions granted for good behavior.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “Should Ms. Corby’s legal team apply for parole, the Australian Government would support it.”

Indonesia’s Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin on Wednesday linked Corby’s case to that of “hundreds of” Indonesian inmates in Australia held in trafficking cases and said he hoped they would get similar attention. “Especially the underage children, whose number are quite many,” he said.

In addition to those cases, Amir cited Corby’s illness during imprisonment and lighter sentences imposed by other nations on marijuana possession convictions as factors that the government weighed in granting Corby clemency.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said there is no link between the Corby case and the release of convicted Indonesian human traffickers, including three from a Western Australian prison last Friday amid concerns they were minors.

“If there were no Schapelle Corby in a Balinese prison we’d still be releasing minors, kids on fishing boats who’d been collected through people smuggling,” he said to reporters Wednesday in a video broadcast by Australia’s ABC News.

“We’d be releasing them because it is plainly indecent to have in Australian adult jails kids from Indonesia who have been picked up on fishing boats being misused for people smuggling.

“At no stage has the Government sat down with our Indonesian counterparts and said, ‘We’ll release minors from our jails, if you consider a clemency application by Ms. Corby.’”

Journalist Rudy Madanir contributed to this report.






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Ahmed Elbatrawy