In April 2012, Indonesia’s Justice and Human Rights Ministry recommended Schapelle Corby’s jail sentence be reduced by ten years, on humanitarian grounds. Corby, now 34, is said to be suffering from mental illness. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a letter on 15 May granting Corby clemency, cutting five years off her 20 year prison term. This is particularly significant as previously the Indonesian President has stated
that he would not use his power of clemency in favour of drug offenders. This may have consequences for other Australians seeking clemency from the President, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of the “Bali 9”.
Two senior government officials in Indonesia have confirmed
Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s statement that Schapelle Corby’s clemency was not part of a deal with Indonesia on releasing people smugglers. Senator Carr said that while the Indonesian Government raised the issue of the people smugglers at a high-level meeting in March 2012, the Australian Government’s decision to release
Indonesian prisoners, who claimed they were minors at the time of their interception, was made independently of Corby’s case.
However, the University of Indonesia’s international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should have taken into consideration the treatment by the Australian government of Indonesian fisherman caught in that country’s waters. Juwana said
‘clemency is not just about legal jurisdiction, it’s political. By granting clemency to Corby, the government should ask for something political in return from Australia. The government should show the public that they are strong and not bowing to pressure from the Australian government’.
Corby’s lawyer has said that an application for parole would be filed later this year. Since her arrest in 2004, Corby has served seven years and seven months on remand and in prison. On special Indonesian holidays, namely Independence Day and Christmas Day, Corby has been granted reductions to her sentence by Indonesian authorities totalling 25 months. This amounts to her being eligible for parole by August 2012. Parole may be granted if the prisoner has served, at minimum, two-thirds of their total sentence.
According to an Indonesian source
close to the Corby family, ‘you must have some connection, some family in Indonesia or you don’t get parole’. This is an unprecedented case and if Corby was paroled
, she may be required to stay in Bali for the duration of her parole period. Further, she may be admitted to a mental health facility as her mental
health was a factor in the President’s consideration of clemency. Australia and Indonesia have not signed a transfer of prisoner treaty, the details of her release and any associated conditions are unclear.
The Australian Government has consistently supported Ms Corby’s application for clemency on humanitarian grounds.
Once released from prison, Schapelle Corby may still be limited in her ability to profit from her notoriety. Appearance on television shows and in magazines might be welcomed by the Australian public, but she will be prohibited from profiting financially under Australian proceeds of crime legislation. In 2009, Corby’s profits from her book My Story were seized
under the laws, amounting to almost $130000.