Editorial: A Bilateral Irritant

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard met her commitment to the Schapelle lobby on her visit to Indonesia last week, her first as leader of her country, by making the same representations on Corby’s behalf that have consistently been made by Australian representatives since Kerobokan’s most high-profile inmate decided to seek clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the 20-year sentence she received in 2005 following her arrest in 2004 when 4.2 kilograms of marijuana was found in that boogie-board bag at Ngurah Rai International Airport. No less could be expected of Gillard, who has herself expressed the view that Corby deserves special consideration. We may surmise that the appeals against their death sentences by the three other Australians currently in the appeal process — the Bali Nine trio of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and Scott Rush — were also the subject of discussion at the two leaders’ meeting in Jakarta.

Corby’s case has always been a cause célèbre in Australia, where an astonishing number of people hold that the former Gold Coast beauty student is innocent or was unfairly dealt with, and more and more are being recruited to the lobby that suggests she is mentally ill and because of this should be sent home. It is curious that her case should be a political issue in her home country. But it is, though, because of the argument – openly expressed by the rowdy classes who as usual shout from a position of ignorance; and put in a more circumspect way by other advocates who are not disconnected from reality — is prosecuted via the popular media and the social networking sites.

The Corby lobby, a worldwide phenomenon, asks us to believe that she is the victim of an Indonesian conspiracy and a fundamental miscarriage of justice that, we are also asked to believe, is all but ubiquitous in the Indonesian justice system. Small wonder Indonesia is rather less than enamoured, or keen to act, in the face of such ignorant arrogance. It is true that a 20-year sentence would be manifestly excessive for the offence of which Corby was convicted, if Indonesian law recognised the clear difference between marijuana (a “soft” drug) and killer narcotics, and if it took full account of the circumstances (and made judgments between silly idiots and criminal masterminds). It is also true that such a sentence would never be imposed in Australia. But Corby wasn’t in Australia, wasn’t tried by an Australian court and (like many) still appears unable to grasp that Indonesian courts hand down sentences in accordance with Indonesian law.

It is odds-on that some accommodation will eventually be made by the Indonesian side in relation to Corby’s sentence. President Yudhoyono, in comments after his meeting with Gillard, said the case should be seen in the context of the prisoner exchange treaty that has been in negotiation between the two countries since 2005. These negotiations stalled long ago. There has always been limited enthusiasm on the Indonesian side over the concept — implicit in the negotiations given the constant distraction of the Corby case — that Australians are somehow deserving of special consideration. But reaching an agreement and putting an exchange treaty in place would relieve Indonesia of the cost — not insubstantial in local terms — of accommodating a growing number of Australian malefactors and remove an unnecessary irritant in the bilateral relationship.

In relation to the death sentences on three of the Bali Nine, Australia long ago abolished capital punishment and consistently argues that case in international forums; it always makes strenuous representations on behalf of Australians sentenced to death in other jurisdictions. The Bali Times opposes the death penalty on moral grounds. We note the governor of Kerobokan Jail holds the view that the state should not usurp God’s will as it relates to when someone’s life ends. There are practical considerations, too. A death sentence once carried out cannot be reversed. That is of itself a jurisprudential fault. The courts must always be able to hear new evidence and be in a position to vary a sentence or acquit a defendant.

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9 Responses to “Editorial: A Bilateral Irritant”

  1. dave Says:

    Well said, people must realise they are subject to the laws of the country they are in….

  2. Dan Says:

    Agree with Dave – you would have to be really stupid to run the gauntlet of Indonesia’s anti-drug laws. However, I think the point many Australians are trying to make is that – in this case – the punishment does not fit the crime. Having said that, I have no problem with life without parole for those who mastermind the trafficking of hard drugs.

  3. Tom Says:

    As an Australian I was appalled at how the Corby incident was played out in the Australian media. You would think there was a fundamental miscarriage of justice in this case. Fact of the matter is, if you arrive at any airport in the world with 4kg of marijuana in your bag, and provide no credible explanation as to how it got there, beyond the testimony of a convicted criminal who apparently overhead some fellow inmates claim they planted it, you will be found guilty, no matter what the country.

    The Schapelle lobby needs to take Occam’s razor to their theories – the simplest explanation is usually correct. In this case, it is that Schapelle put the marijuana in her bag. I fail to see why a criminal would plant thousands of dollars worth of drugs into a random bag.

    Just as an aside, I weighed my bodyboard and bag. It was 3.2kg. I am sure I would notice if it more than doubled in weight over the course of a flight…

  4. Bryce Says:

    A very clear & balanced editorial! I wish the mainstream Australian media had been as clear thinking in their approach. Personally I found the media perspective & consequent social actions to be absurd & arrogant in their demands.
    As a foreigner in another country you need to respect the laws of the place you’re in. Simple!

  5. Ellen Arrowsmith Says:

    Facts:

    Indonesian authorities refused to weigh Schapelle’s bag, to compare it to the Brisbane check in weight, even though she begged for this evidence.

    Indonesian authorities refused to test the drugs (or the plastic bags it came in), for finger prints, human DNA or plant source, even though Schapelle begged for this evidence.

    Every frame of CCTV Schapelle begged for (including the footage from Denpasar Airport, to verify her version of events, vis a vis the customs officers), “Vanished” without explanation.

    Schapelle had no criminal record.

    Schapelle had no criminal profile or connections (as per testimony from Prof. Paul Wilson, Criminology, Head of Dept, Bond University, Australia).

    There in NO flow of commercial marijuana FROM Australia, TO Bali, and NO convictions for this crime before Schapelle’s case, or afterwards. It’s a crazy proposition. The drug sells for about ten times more in Australia.

    No police force in Australia investigated the source of the marijuana found in Schapelle’s bag, to catch any and all associated criminals. They did not search her home, they did not investigate her phone & banking records, and they did not interview any of her family and friends. This was probably because they knew the drugs weren’t hers – and were connected to corrupt insiders. Google:

    ray cooper afp

    . . . and click on the top link to learn more about that. Ray Cooper was the former Head of Internal Investigations for the Australian Federal Police.

    The same baggage handling crew, same day (QANTAS, Sydney Airport), that dealt with Schapelle’s bags, were involved in smuggling drugs in the bags of an innocent QANTAS passenger from Argentina. Google:

    qantas sydney cocaine baggage 2005

    . . . to read the multiple press reports about their corrupt activities.

    So in other words, the Indonesian court convicted Schapelle without a shred of physical or circumstantial evidence linking her to drugs found in a bag, a bag that had been out of her control for many hours, and in the hands of corrupt workers. It’s likely the marijuana was an Australian domestic shipment (from Brisbane to Sydney), that was missed because all the attention was on the much more valuable cocaine (which should have arrived in Sydney the previous day from South America, but had to be re-scheduled to fit in with the rosters of corrupt workers).

  6. Sue Holder Says:

    How about the truth that she IS actually innocent? How about the truth that Indonesia DOES actually hold a mentally ill woman in grotesque conditions?

    This is the Bali Times all over: it is why it, and the expats behind it, disgust decent people across the world.

    By the logic of the twisted mind who wrote this article, the crushing of Jews in Nazi Germany was fine, because it was in accordance with German law. Sick.

    This rag will say anything to distract from the reality, and to cover the terrible abuse of an innocent woman. They will say anything to distract from something which exposes the brutality in Bali, rather than the Idyllic picture of Bali they like to paint. They will even sell an innocent to slow torturous death.

    As for the empty minds who spew bile in comments sections like this: they ar ethe sort of media fed sheep you pander to. Your time is up though… the world is wakening up to this atrocity, and the role of toxic rags like yours.

  7. Laura Hart Says:

    The creatures behind the Bali Times are simply disgusting. Constantly trying to manage opinion against a sick and innocent woman, to cover for cruelty and corruption. Spot on Sue.

  8. Mark Wright Says:

    The Bali Times are in the job of selling ‘Paradise Bali’, for its own financial benefit.

    Schapelle Corby displays the brutal reality. They want to hide it.

    That is why they spew for so much propaganda against her. It is why they deflect readers away from the truth. Read it for yourself in the countless hostile articles they publish.

  9. Tim Says:

    Mark I think you may of just hit it on the head!!! I could never understand why Bali Times have this nasty obsession with Corby when anyone who lives here knows exactly what the justice system is like here.
    I have a friend who was locked up in a house by police for 3 days and told if he didn’t come up with the money asked they would plant drugs on him and send him to prison. The money was raised and he was released. He is not the only one this has happened to. stories like this don’t even raise an eyebrow with local’s as it is the normal.

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