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Schapelle slips the system, but faces a world of attention

Schapelle Corby is likely to be free within the next few days,but although her surrounds will be more comfortable, she will be under more scrutiny than ever.

Short of a bureaucratic snafu, which is always possible, Australian convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby will be released on parole from Indonesia’s Kerobokan prison within days. She’s breaking new ground.

Parole is relatively uncommon in Indonesia, primarily because parolees have to be accepted back into the community in which they intend to reside. Many communities have been unwilling to accept convicted criminals, but Corby’s sister Mercedes and Balinese brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, appear to have secured support from their local community in central Kuta.

Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has said Corby will not receive any special consideration for or against as he considers some 1700 applications for parole over the next few days. She will, he says, be treated as would any other prisoner.

Corby has refused to acknowledge guilt over smuggling marijuana into Indonesia, which has been a significant factor in ensuring that she did not have her prison sentence fully commuted. However, this should not be a factor in whether or not she is paroled.

This is a positive sign for Corby, as there have been cases in the past where judicial decisions have been influenced by political considerations. Clearly, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does not consider Corby’s potential parole as a political issue, although he is attempting to put forward a candidate in this year’s presidential election in July, and despite the damaged state of Australia-Indonesia relations.

It shows, too, that the Indonesian judicial process is, or appears to be, operating in a straight and transparent manner, at least at the top. This has sometimes not been the case in the past.

As for Corby, assuming all goes according to plan, she will live with her sister and brother-in-law. She will be free to stay elsewhere in Indonesia, so long as she informs the local police of her intended whereabouts.

The catch, such as it is, is that she cannot leave Indonesia until her sentence is completed in 2016. She must also stay in Indonesia for a further year to assure Indonesian authorities that her parole has proven she is of reformed character.

On the scale of hardships, however, and especially after eight years in an Indonesian prison, living in Bali for the next three years should be relatively comfortable. This will be especially so if she is able to moderate any comments she might make to an enthusiastic media. Getting the local community offside with injudicious observations would be the last thing she would want over the coming months and years.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment that Corby will have to make is simply that of coming to terms with her prison experience. There have been indications, at different times, that she has been psychologically troubled by the experience.

More positively, that time will have ensured that Corby is at least familiar with the wider cultural mores of Indonesia generally and of Bali in particular. One would expect, too, after such time, she would have learned some Indonesian, which, although far from necessary in much of Bali, is always more rather than less helpful.

After her experience in prison, Corby’s next biggest challenge will be how she handles intense media attention. If she is able to secure a financially lucrative media deal, such as for an exclusive interview, she would be wise to be discreet about being rewarded, in effect, for her conviction for breaking the law.

Beyond that, we should not read into this parole any potential leniency for the so-called Bali Nine. They are still in very deep trouble.

*Professor Damien Kingsbury is director of the Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights at Deakin University and is an Indonesia specialist

3
  • 1
    Vincent O'Donnell
    Posted Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    What a boon for the Nine Network with the telemovie scheduled for Monday night. It is publicity you can’t buy.

    It will be interesting to see how Katherine Thompson’s screen play navigates the issues and still deliver good TV drama.

  • 2
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Her sister (a Hindu convert) and b-in-law are deeply integrated & ensconced in the local community and it would be nice to hope they might form a barrier between her & the gutter press & tabloid TV.
    The Corby family has little reason to trust the 4th Estate given how they has been traduced & abused by hacks & reptiles.

  • 3
    negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com
    Posted Monday, 10 February 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    The telemovie is proof of establishment panic. Watch the online You Tube doco ‘Expendable’ for a more plausible account of the matter.
    Of course the timing of nine’s telemovie premiere with her release is mere coincidence - what does the Australian establishment take us for - idiots?

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