Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, hiding her face from a media scrum, was hustled out of prison yesterday to start the next chapter of her troubled life after more than nine years behind bars in Bali.
The 36-year-old covered her features with a scarf and hat as she was released on parole and ushered into a minibus waiting outside Kerobokan jail on the Indonesian resort island, as camera crews and photographers fought to get a shot of her.
Corby’s case has been the subject of huge public interest back home ever since her 2004 arrest with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear in Bali, a favorite holiday spot for Australians.
Her steadfast proclamations of innocence and well-documented fight with mental illness in prison generated much sympathy in Australia. She was often depicted there as the victim of a conspiracy or of unfair treatment by Indonesia’s supposedly corrupt judicial system.
Her release received blanket coverage by Australian TV networks yesterday, which broadcast every moment live to the millions who have followed her case for years.
After she was freed, Corby visited government officials who will oversee her parole in Indonesia — where she must remain until 2017 — before being whisked away by a black SUV to a luxury resort and spa in the popular Seminyak district.
A bidding war has heated up in recent days for her first post-jail interview. A second black car containing a TV crew raced into the resort after Corby, while the rest of the following media pack were barred from entering.
As expected, the former beauty school student did not comment, but one official said she seemed upset.