There’s Something About Schapelle

By Novar Caine

Since the trial days of Schapelle Corby, the practice among supporters of jumping up and screaming has continued. It undoubtedly harmed her chances back in 2005 and it’s doing her no favours today, either. Reason – and manners – is thrown out and rampant hysteria, frequently foul-mouthed, takes its place. Dissenters are silenced.

What has happened to Schapelle Corby, who is now 33, is a tragedy for any young person, whether it was one of her making or not. We can speculate ad infinitum about whether she is innocent or guilty of bringing 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in 2004 – a victim of a drug ring, an unwitting mule; or a real player – but all we can go on is the law of the land and the verdict of its courts.

There is no doubting that Schapelle has an appeal that other inmates at Kerobokan Prison do not. There are other Australians behind bars there, three of them on death row, where an African man also lingers. They were all convicted by the Denpasar District Court of drugs crimes. But yet there are no campaigns to free them, no loud voices of protest at their jailing.

Could it be, as has often been promulgated, that Corby fits the veridical image of a feeble damsel in disquietude, a good-looking, wide-eyed girl wronged by an unscrupulous land? Could this all be one giant mistake?

Indonesian jurisprudence has many flaws; of that there is no mistake. But in criminal matters, all the more so concerning those under an intense foreign-media spotlight, there exist three avenues of appeal after the originating court’s verdict; and if all those fail, should you be of a mind, you can appeal to the president for a pardon. This legal ladder is in place to ensure that every possible argument and piece of evidence, however late in being uncovered, is made available for judges to examine.

Apart from that, in Australians’ cases, a framework has been constructed that may allow for their repatriation to serve their time in Australian prisons. The proposed system has long been stalled, however, at parliamentary level in Jakarta. Indonesian politicians, it seems, don’t see the need for special treatment, even if Australia is a vital diplomatic, security and trade partner.

Also potentially in their favour are fervent negotiations with their counterparts in Indonesia by top Australian officials, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her foreign minister, Kevin Rudd. They don’t want to see Australians standing before firing squads in Indonesia, because Australia doesn’t have or support capital punishment (and particularly given the Australian Federal Police’s tip-off role about the Bali Nine who were trying to fly themselves and a great deal of heroin to Australia).

Who knows what will happen to Schapelle. For years now a pattern of claims has been emerging, chiefly by way of family members, that she is suffering mental distress at her incarceration. That’s understandable. Being locked up is no picnic; it’s not supposed to be fun. She has served more than a quarter of her sentence and been granted remissions on national and religions holidays because of her good behaviour.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in weighing his clemency decision, will be mindful of a triad of issues: The courts’ verdicts; lobbying by Australian leaders; and the rise in foreigners’ arrests over drugs in Bali. The Supreme Court last year reportedly made a recommendation that Corby’s sentence be significantly slashed, which will undoubtedly guide the president.

While that is happening, and whatever the outcome, Corby’s supporters must begin to understand that their fanatical shrieking is unhelpful, to the woman they support and to themselves. By all means continue your campaign, but do so with decency and respect.

And in the meantime, anyone even considering involvement in drug smuggling should force themselves to acknowledge that there is a very real probability they will be discovered and, in many parts of Southeast Asia, may end up paying with their lives.

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10 Responses to “There’s Something About Schapelle”

  1. Tim Says:

    I am someone who thinks that corby may be innocent and that the Indonesian courts did not give her a fair trial. (did not test the evidence of weight, dna, cctv footage, fingerprints ect despite her ongoing pleas to do so). She has been in prison close to 7 years now. Being a long term resident in Indonesia I know that its a fact that Indonesian Law is not fair and just. What I don’t get with this story is why do you think her supporters have been so bad? I have not seen anything in which I feel they have been foul mouthed and shrieking unhelpfully in news stories which the Indonesian president will see and decide that because she has supporters he will not grant her clemency.

  2. Jens Says:

    The Bali 9 have not had supporters protesting loudly for their release.. 3 of them are on death row and 5 others on life sentence. I find it amusing that you say the people who fight for Corby may be the reason she got 20 years. Being quiet and keeping out of the media did not help those young men on death row so how can you be so sure that if Corby supporters stayed quiet she too would not be on death row or still of been given 20 years or life??

  3. NevinEsk Says:

    For almost all the time that Corby has been imprisoned, I have been there because I saw a travesty of justice that could happen to any traveller from any country. Her case stood out as no-one takes a large quantity of marijuana to Bali. Common sense says you would not be able to sell it in comparison to the home grown product and make a profit. Common sense also says that you would be a fool to try. This is what drew me to the case.

    Schapelle was unfortunate in that her surf bag was unlocked, the police refused her requests to weigh her luggage to compare with take off weight, refused to fingerprint the evidence and refused to allow a sample for forensic testing by the AFP. The court refused to accept expert testimony and ordered the evidence destroyed before any forensic testing could be carried out. The chief judge prejudged the case by stating that in over 500 drug cases he had never released an accused. There was no investigation into the high possibility the drugs had been inserted in Bali prior to placing the bag on the floor of the pickup area. There is a high smell of collusion and entrapment of a tourist and a warning to all international visitors. What happened to Corby can happen to you. Australia had been warned.

    As moderator of the primary support forum I have never recommended that people use abuse in discussing matters with Indonesian officials. All recommended letters from supporters have followed standard protocol. However, we cannot be held responsible for the unfettered ravings of the misguided who write in response to newspaper and magazine articles.

    With the growing belief in Australia that Corby was setup by the Bali police, the easiest way out for all parties is to provide for her release as soon as possible otherwise anger in Australia will fester and grow with the end result damaging the relationship between the two countries.

  4. Luigi Condorelli Says:

    Is completely absurd to import cannabis in Bali. It is like importing cocaine in Colombia. Drug smuggling is a trade, illicit but a trade, and it must follow the same laws of every kind of trade, to not go bankrupt. And the first law of trade is something like “buy goods where are cheep and sell them where are expensive”. So is very hard to believe that Schapelle really bought 4.2 Kg of MJ in Australia at almost 42.000 A$, to sell it in Bali at less than 12.000 A$. If she really did such illogical trade, she is clearly not guilty for mental insanity.

  5. Luigi Condorelli Says:

    Dear Mr. Caine, I’m an Italian, not an Aussie, I’ve never been in Australia and I have nothing against Indonesians (I’m also a supporter of Dramsala), so I think my opinions about the issue can be considered fairly neutral.
    Please, let me explain the reasons why me and many other people of the web support Schapelle and not the Bali Nine.
    The Bali Nine are surely guilty and they never claimed to be innocent. They knew the risk of their drug smuggling operation, but they made their choice and now they are suffering the consequence of their choice. I’m against capital punishment, but every country has its law, and people have to respect it. I naturally hope their death sentence will be converted in a long jail term, but I prefer to give my support to persons I retain innocent.
    The Schapelle case is a more and more controversial issue: the alleged operation is very anomalous: usually, people buy drugs in Indonesia where they are cheap, to sell it in Australia where they are expensive (like the Bali Nine have tried to do), and not vice versa (in fact, before her, there was no people arrested for importing drugs from Australia to Indonesia). And in presence of such anomalous cannabis route, why Indonesian Authority refused to weight the baggage and to fingerprint and DNA test the cannabis to show beyond any reasonable doubt the guiltiness of Miss Corby?
    Had the Indonesians weighted the baggage, showing it has the same weight of the check-inn; had they fingerprinted the cannabis, showing it has the fingerprint of Miss Corby; had they DNA tested the cannabis, showing it came from Australia, they would silence all Schapelle’s supporters that now speck so aloud. Had the Indonesian done all such things and now I and many other people of the web would have nothing to argue. I would say something like “The trial was fair, she was surely guilty, I’m sorry for her, but she is suffering the consequence of her action”.
    As a neutral observer, in my way of thinking, I’m forced to presume Schapelle to be innocent, because, in my humble opinion, the Indonesians failed to prove her guiltiness beyond any reasonable doubt, refusing to weight the baggage and burning the cannabis without testing. The decision of the courts must be respected, but there is something above the laws, the tribunals, the sentences and the states, that is the innate aspiration of justice of human been.
    So, as a neutral observer, I don’t understand why is so hard for Indonesians to comprehend the anger of Australians. Is natural for people to fill anger when they retain that justice was denied to a fellow citizen.
    Indonesians were angered against Saudi Arabians when Dramsala was sentenced to death after killing for self-defense to not be raped.
    On the same basis, Australian were angered against Indonesians when Schapelle was sentenced to 20 years, without weight her baggage and testing the cannabis (but not when the Bali Nine were rightfully punished for their crimes).
    Japanese were angered against Australians when Chika Honda and other four tourists were jailed for more than 10 years, after a trial, in my opinion barbaric, with an interpreter who knew very few Japanese and make more than 100 translation errors.
    Americans were angered against Italians when Amanda Knox was sentenced to 26 years, after an unfair trial, heavily biased by media, that depict her as a monster thirsted of sex and blood.
    I report these example of justice miscarriages, because I don’t want to offend Indonesians saying their judicial system is worst than the others. Human justice is not divine justice and errors may happened in every country.
    I want only to show you that Schapelle is very controversial issue – I don’t know if you agree with me or not – and her guiltiness is not so proved as the Bali Nine, who got a fair trial and were punished according to Indonesian standard. So, as a neutral observer, I think in her case, an act of Presidential Clemency will be very appropriate, to definitively end discussions and restore the good relations between people.

    Luigi Condorelli

  6. Max Says:

    Indonesia’s system of government was ‘designed’ by its first president, Sukarno, in 1947 and he called it “guided democracy”. Basically, there were many political parties and each put forward a candidate for the presidency with elections every five years. At a glance, it looked like democracy. So how did it work? It was ‘guided’ by giving each military general an uncontested seat in the MPR (Indonesia’s parliament) and allowing them to rule by proxy and support was bought for the system by trickle-down corruption. Right up until the late 1990’s Indonesia’s police were a branch of the military and any unwanted opinion was silenced by draconian defamation laws that weren’t a civil matter as they are elsewhere but rather a criminal matter that made embarrassing criticism punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. This meant that in legal matters of the police versus anyone in court, the police and their word were beyond reproach. In the words of one Balinese local: “If the police say you are guilty, you are guilty” and Judge Sirait’s comment that he had never acquitted a single drugs case out of 500 then makes sense because he had never acquitted anyone of any crime that the police had said was guilty.

    So Indonesia was a dictatorship that was pretending to be a democracy. However, this caused a huge problem when Suharto tied the value of the Rupiah to the American greenback during the Asian stock market crash and Indonesia’s economy went bust. The USA had no choice but to impose trade sanctions against Indonesia to protect the American economy. However, to justify their actions after they had spent at least 10 years ignoring the ‘Free East Timor’ movement they couched their actions in term of Suharto leaving, democracy being established, and humanitarian concerns being met. The Americans came up with the East Timor referendum for self rule and the Indonesian government came up with a pretend democratic revolution. Two thousand university students scale the palace walls to oust Suharto and his evil regime? Sure. And when the media asked when Suharto would be brought to justice, government spokespersons claimed that he was too ill… what a sham.

    As for the courts, when a government knows who they want prosecuted the only need for courts is as a mechanism for oppression so this pretend democracy that had a pretend democratic revolution had a pretend trial to punish John Howard and make him realise that he was powerless in Indonesia.

  7. Shun Says:

    “Reason – and manners – is thrown out and rampant hysteria, frequently foul-mouthed, takes its place. Dissenters are silenced.”

    I think you are confusing supporters with dissenters.

    Whenever I read responses in news papers to Schapelle stories it is always the dissenters that are foul-mouthed. I could give examples but I refrain from using such gutter language.

    I don’t believe any of the above letters use “rampant hysteria or foul language”
    For the most part supporters sight reasons for Schapelle’s innocence while dissenters only recite rhetoric the newspapers have fed them.

    Ask a supporter why they believe in Schapelle and I guarantee that they have researched the case and can give you a plethora of facts not inuendo that support her innocence.
    Ask a dissenter why they believe her to be guilty and I guarantee it will be misinformation that their opinion is based on.

  8. steve Says:

    if you were used to smoking oz dirtty skunk weed that filthy stuff …then the local indo stuff wouldnt compare..would be like a junkie take a asprin and no effect. i beleive you would try get it in if you got lesser amounts in before for personal use, and you probly get not far off the price for an ounce of gold to the new commers and expat community and on the was not that long ago you could get anything into dps and you still can im talking large amounts off frozen fish,a side of pork or lamb etc etc and the last time i came through after making some honest coin for my local family i had to wke up the poor lady on xray machine i was one of the first through so im sure she got 5 minutes more sleep after me.i still cant work out those bad people who set poor corby up as if i was into settinng people up i would choose a first timer not one with family and history in bali.

  9. james Says:

    Schapelle should be released; what is the Indonesians purpose in imprisoning her. I guess they think 2 wrongs make 1 right. Everybody knows she was railroaded James usa

  10. Jay Coles Says:

    Every one is saying schapelle is inocent, I for one think she is not,I have read and heard that her father and his mates have been growing , selling and also in some cases exporting pot for the last couple of years. Just because she is a young pretty girl everyone jumped up and down and said no way why would you take pot to bali, I will tell you why, the bali grown pot is shit, good hydro would be worth a foutune over there so lets say the 4 kg is worth $20,000.00 aussie ( this is cheap estimate ) well you could nearly tripple or ever quadrouple that selling in it in bali as it is so much stronger and better quality, so for a chance for her to get $ 80,000.00 I think she may have welll taken the risk thinking that her father and his mates may have payed of the customs officials as previously hinted at in the books and article that are getting around. On the boogie board bag, how would someone be able to perfectly shape a bag of pot ( heat sealed to measure the EXACT dimentions of her boogie board bag ) in the limited time and in sight of other baggage handelers to be able to put in her bag. This is just my opinion and I am entitled to it, this is in no way proven it is just what I have heard

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