Schapelle Leigh Corby, finally walked free under a parole on Monday morning from a Bali jail where she had spent two thirds of her prison term for drug smuggling.
Corby, 36, from Queensland, Australia, walked out of Kerobokan prison in Denpasar at 8 AM local time, Monday, 10 February, under heavy police guard.
Corby was sent to jail by an Indonesian court in 2005 for 20 years after her arrest in 2004, but she has received sentence cuts reducing her jail term to 15 years.
The parole release of Corby had been widely criticized with the government accused of bowing to pressure from Australia.
The government defended its decision saying the release was not because of any pressure or a generosity of the government, but “it is because of Corby’s right.” Corby is one of 1,291 inmates whose parole had been processed, Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said last weekend.
“I do not want to speak specifically about Schapelle. What I want to say is that this conditional parole is not a policy, not a generosity of the government. It is a law that is regulated and enacted by the government,” Amir said.
Drug trafficking is categorized as an extraordinary crime in Indonesia like terrorism and corruption.
On Sunday the National Movement against Narcotics (Granat) strongly protested the parole regardless of the right.
Crimes committed by Corby or other drug convicts are a threat to the safety of the nation, the movement chairman senior lawyer Henry Yosodiningrat said.
Henry, who has been known for his campaign against clemency for convicts of extraordinary crimes, said the government should be sensitive to the public’s sense of justice.
Corby was arrested at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in 2004 with 4.1 kilograms of marijuana stashed in her surfing gear.
Corby, may not leave the country until 2017 to fulfill her parole conditions.
She is expected to stay with her sister Mercedes, who is married to a Balinese and lives in Bali.
Amir Syamsuddin also explained that the government’s decision to grant parole to Australian drug dealer Schapelle Leigh Corby would not undermine the country’s justice system.
Without mentioning her name, the minister said at a press conference in his office in Bali on Friday that the Australian prisoner was one of 1,291 convicts to receive parole.
He noted, “it (the parole) is not a policy or a facility. That is a prisoner’s right and it is put in a regulation and given in line with other existing regulations.” He said that the parole was authorized based upon the Government Regulation Number 32/99, which was later revised into Government Regulation Number 28/2006.
Based upon the regulation, parole may be granted to a prisoner who has demonstrated good conduct while in prison, as shown in Register F which contains records of order violations and disciplinary sanctions.
Setara Institute has criticized the government’s decision, as being influenced by political considerations, in view of the relations between Indonesia and Australia.
“I see political considerations behind it. Moreover, the Australian government has recently returned Adrian Kiki, the wanted corruption convict from Indonesia,” said Hendardi, the chief of the non-governmental organization in advocacy for democracy, freedom and human rights.
He said relations between the two countries have often been marked by dynamics which have not always been positive.
He noted that it was not impossible that the decision was made based upon the return of the BLBI corruption convict.
“Returning a wanted convict is not easy, as proven by the recent death of a wanted corruption convict in that country,” he said.
Hendardi added that Australia had pressured Indonesia for Corby’s return. “Although the prime minister has changed, several times, that country has kept pressuring Indonesia over the Corby issue,” he said.
Although Corby has met the requirements for receiving a parole, Indonesia will be the loser in releasing her, he said.
Because narcotics crimes are categorized as an extraordinary crime, Herdadi feared the decision would reduce the deterrent effect on others.
The Supreme Court, in January 2006, ruled that she was guilty and sentenced her to 20 years in jail.
She was held at Kerobokan prison in Bali. She has so far received remissions in her sentence totaling 25 months.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in decision number 22/G in 2012, granted her a pardon by reducing her jail term to 15 years.