|Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby is escorted by police and prison officials at the prosecutor’s office after she was freed from prison on parole on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Sunday. |
KEROBOKAN, Indonesia (AFP) ― Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby was released from an Indonesian prison on parole Monday after more than nine years behind bars, racing past hordes of waiting journalists as scores of police stood guard.
The 36-year-old covered her face with a scarf and hat as she was ushered into a minibus waiting outside Kerobokan jail on the resort island of Bali, as camera crews and photographers fought to get a shot of her.
Corby, whose case has drawn huge fascination in Australia since she was caught entering Bali in 2004 with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear, sped off to complete final administrative steps for her release, with journalists giving chase.
“Corby will be escorted in the minibus to the prosecutors’ office and then the corrections office,” local police official Agus Nugroho said, explaining the final procedural steps that Corby must take before her release.
Journalists have been camped outside Kerobokan jail for the past week in anticipation of her release, with one Australian television network alone having reportedly having dispatched 17 staff.
As expected Corby made no comment on her release, with a media bidding war reportedly in full swing for her first post-jail interview.
Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin announced on Friday that Corby, who has always maintained her innocence, had been granted parole following a drawn-out process that repeatedly ran into bureaucratic hurdles.
The move was welcomed in Australia but drew protests from Indonesian lawmakers and an antidrugs group, who said it went against the country’s tough antidrugs laws.
Syamsuddin defended the move, saying that parole was a “right regulated by law.”
Following her release, the 36-year-old will not be able to return to Australia until 2017. Her sentence ends in 2016 and then she will be required to stay for another year to comply with the conditions of her parole.
During this period, Corby is expected to live on the resort island with Mercedes and her sister’s Balinese husband.
She will also have to report regularly to authorities in Bali and will be allowed to travel to other parts of Indonesia but only with prior permission from the authorities.
Corby has always insisted that the 4.1 kilograms of marijuana found in her bodyboard bag were planted.
Prisoners typically live side by side in overcrowded cells, and drug abuse, fighting between inmates and beatings by jail wardens are reportedly common.
She has suffered from mental health problems in prison and needed hospital treatment for depression.
Corby was convicted and jailed for 20 years in 2005.
The end of her sentence was brought forward to 2016 after she received several remissions for good behavior, and a five-year cut following an appeal for clemency to the Indonesian president.
Her parole bid was a complex, monthslong process which repeatedly ran into bureaucratic hurdles. The process sped up in the past week when a justice ministry parole board in Jakarta finally heard her case.
Her application included letters of support from the Australian government, as well as her family, the Balinese village head where she will live and the Kerobokan prison warden.
In prison Corby lived alongside other foreigners sentenced under Indonesia’s tough antinarcotics laws, from people caught with small quantities of drugs at parties to those attempting to smuggle huge stashes onto the island.