An Indonesian anti-drugs group said yesterday Jakarta’s decision to parole Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby could put the “safety of our nation” at risk, as she prepared to leave prison on Bali.
The 36-year-old, whose case has attracted huge attention in Australia, could be freed as early as today from Kerobokan prison on the tourist island after the decision to grant her early release.
Corby, arrested in 2004 entering Bali with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear, will walk straight into a media frenzy, with dozens of journalists camped outside Kerobokan and a bidding war for her first post-jail interview in full swing. Corby’s well-documented mental illness, steadfast proclamations of innocence and fight to be freed from prison earned her sympathy in Australia.
However the view in Indonesia has been starkly different. Yesterday, the National Movement Against Narcotics (Granat) issued a strongly worded statement against the parole decision.
“Granat protests parole being granted, even if it is the ‘right’ of the prisoner,” said Henry Yosodiningrat, chairman of the group, which has long campaigned against Corby’s early release.
“Crimes committed by Corby or other drug convicts — they are crimes against the safety of our nation,” he added.
“The president should be sensitive to the public’s sense of justice, as the public will be the ones who will be hurt by this clemency shown to Corby,” he said.
He said that 5 million Indonesians had become drug users or addicts “as a result of drug crimes like those committed by Corby.”
Others urged the government not to grant parole in the run-up to Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin’s decision on Friday, with a group of eight lawmakers presenting a letter of protest. When he announced Corby was getting early release, Syamsuddin defended the decision, saying it was “not an act of generosity,” but “a right regulated by law.”
Farid Junaidi, Kerobokan prison governor, confirmed yesterday that the parole documents were en route from Jakarta to Bali and could arrive in that evening.
If the documents arrived late yesterday, Corby would still have to wait until today to complete procedural formalities during office hours before her release.
Corby, who was originally jailed for 20 years, but received several sentence cuts, will not be able to return to Australia immediately. Instead, she will have to remain in Indonesia until 2017 to fulfil the conditions of her parole. She is expected to stay with her sister Mercedes, who lives on Bali, down a tiny lane in the tourist strip of Kuta.