Campaigning Aussie PM Backs Corby Clemency

MELBOURNE

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in the middle of an election campaign, says she supports a clemency plea by convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby.

Gillard said in Melbourne on Thursday she was concerned about Corby’s personal circumstances in Kerobokan Jail in Bali.

“I support, the Australian government supports, her plea for clemency,” she said. “We obviously do want that plea for clemency to be heard and to get sympathetic consideration.”

The official support for clemency is not new. But Gillard, fighting to keep her Labor Party in power at the polls on August 21, repeated it on the heels of news that an Indonesian Supreme Court judge has recommended Schapelle Corby’s jail sentence be significantly cut.

The 33-year-old former Gold Coast beauty student has served five years of a 20-year sentence in Kerobokan but has always maintained she was an unwitting drug courier and blames baggage handlers for putting the drugs inside her boogieboard bag.

Corby’s fate is now in the hands of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

It is understood that a Supreme Court judge has recommended in a submission to the president that Corby’s sentence be cut.

Her lawyer Iskandar Nawing told the Australian broadcaster ABC on Thursday that Corby was mentally ill. He filed a mercy petition three months ago, after he last saw Corby and she could not understand what he was saying to her.

He told the ABC: “I asked a doctor to check her. He did, and he issued a letter that says Schapelle needs to be helped to get out of prison immediately and moved to a place where her mental illness can be cured.”

Prisoners in Indonesia must usually admit guilt to receive clemency but Corby has always said she will never do this.

“Schapelle is innocent,” Nawing said. “The judges have different opinions but of course I still submitted this clemency request, stating that Schapelle’s innocent.”

Corby is due for release in 2024.

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