Former beauty school student will be eligible for parole this fall
JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cut Australian Schapelle Corby’s 20-year prison sentence for smuggling marijuana into the country by five years last Tuesday, meaning the former beauty school student will be eligible for parole this fall.
Corby’s plight became something of a cause célèbre — there is even a web site devoted to her release — after she was arrested at an airport in Bali as she arrived on vacation in 2004. In her luggage was found nine pounds of marijuana. She always maintained her innocence, and the case strained relations between Australia and Indonesia.
Corby applied for a sentence reduction two years ago, with her attorney arguing that her mental health was slipping after years of confinement in the overcrowded Kerobokan Penitentiary.
Australia welcomed the cut in sentence.
“The Australian government has consistently supported Ms. Corby’s application for clemency on humanitarian grounds,” Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement.
The 34-year-old’s release is not, however, a done deal. She must be approved for parole, and Australia must guarantee her good behavior upon release. Corby and her team are asking the Australian government for its support in the parole bid.
Despite some criticism from hard-liners, Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin said Corby’s conviction was “not related to heroin or other heavy drugs” and was not for major drug trafficking. “It was purely marijuana and the marijuana didn’t weigh hundreds of kilograms,” he said.