Prison Doctor Rejects ‘Suicide Risk’ Report

KEROBOKAN ~ The doctor medically responsible for all Kerobokan Jail inmates has rejected a leading Australian psychiatrist’s assessment that high-profile drug prisoner Schapelle Corby is so mentally ill she may kill herself.

Dr Agus Hartawan said this week he was not consulted about the examination of Corby by Dr Jonathan Phillips and had not been shown his report.

And he added: “Judging from her daily routine, she’s fine. As of today, she’s doing OK; she’s socialising OK with the other prisoners. When she’s stressed or depressed she will act out, but other than that, she’s normal.”

The claim by Dr Phillips that Corby was “hanging by a thread” in terms of her sanity and potential suicide risk was seized on by the Corby family to promote its long-standing campaign to win her release or repatriation.

It also sparked the first direct Australian political intervention in the issue, with a call from the Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh – Queensland is Corby’s home state – for her to be brought home to serve the rest of her sentence.

New Idea magazine, a “popular” publication, has long campaigned for special treatment for Corby. It flew Dr Phillips, who has a lucrative consulting practice and is also an associate professor of psychiatry, to Bali to examine her.

A story on Dr Phillips’ conclusions from examining Corby appears in its latest issue.

The examination, which the Corby family claims took at least two hours but which Dr Hartawan says lasted “no more than an hour,” backs otherwise untested claims that Corby has a serious mental illness.

Premier Bligh said in Brisbane this week the report should prompt a review of whether it was appropriate for her to be transferred from Bali’s Kerobokan Prison.

“These matters are quite appropriately dealt with on a federal level but I have to say I have always thought it would be better if Schapelle Corby served her time in Australia,” Bligh said.

“These latest incidents may be an opportunity for that to be reconsidered.”

Since Corby (32) was sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in jail for smuggling 4.1kg of cannabis into Bali in a boogieboard bag, both her family and a worldwide network of supporters have campaigned for her release or for her to be sent home to an Australian jail.

The “latest incidents” Premier Bligh referred to include Corby’s spell in Sanglah Hospital earlier this year following a breakdown at Kerobokan and other, earlier instances at Kerobokan, including one in which she apparently hid herself in the roof and claimed people were spying on her through the ceiling.

After her major breakdown, prison authorities sent her to the police detention centre hospital in Denpasar, but she was then transferred to Sanglah following intervention by her family and the Australian consulate-general in Bali.

After several days at Sanglah she was returned to custody at Kerobokan amid wild scenes, during which Corby locked herself in her private room at Sanglah and her mother, Rosleigh Rose, is said to have loudly abused prison chiefs.

In another Australian magazine recently, fellow inmate Renae Lawrence, one of the Bali Nine drug convicts, claimed she had been made responsible for Corby’s welfare in jail, and for ensuring she took her medication.

The central government says no negotiations are taking place to return Corby to Australia.

Separately, a prisoner-exchange treaty is being negotiated between Indonesia and Australia – unusually, at the Australian end, by the Department of Home Affairs rather than Foreign Affairs and Trade – but no agreement has been reached.

Indonesia is reported to be insisting that any treaty excludes people convicted of terrorism of drug offences.

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