Australian drug-smuggler Schapelle Corby is still waiting for news on her clemency appeal to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but she will receive a remission on her sentence, delayed since Christmas, it has been announced.
The head of Bali’s main Kerobokan Prison, where Corby and other high-profile foreign inmates are held, I Gusti Ngurah Wiratna, said that 20 foreign inmates including Corby had been put forward for sentence reductions, but confirmation of the cuts had only recently come through.
“Most of the foreign inmates were involved in drug cases and are serving heavy sentences. That’s why, unlike some other inmates, their remission proposals must be considered very carefully,” he said, explaining the delay. The remissions had to be ratified by the Ministry of Human Rights and Justice before being confirmed.
“The ministry has given the nod for the proposed remission for all 20 foreign inmates,” Wiratna said.
Corby, 34, has been granted a remission of 1.5 months. She was originally jailed for 20 years after trying to smuggle 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali from Australia in 2004.
Renae Lawrence, an Australian woman part of the so-called “Bali Nine” gang of heroin smugglers, received a two-month remission on her 20-year term.
Announcing the remissions, Wiratna also said that prison officials were still awaiting the release of funds from the Justice Ministry to complete renovations and repairs to the facility after extensive damage was caused during riots by inmates in February.
“We are still working in a temporary office in the prison hall as our office building was heavily damaged in the riot,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of Australian and Indonesian officials met foreign prisoners, including Corby, at the prison last Friday.
The half-hour meeting involved officials from the Australian Embassy and the Indonesian foreign and justice ministries, Corby, members of the Bali Nine and Michael Sacatides, another Australian drug smuggler, serving 18 years for attempting to bring 1.7 kilograms of methamphetamine into Bali.
After the meeting Wiratna said that the officials had simply been checking up on the inmates.
“They just wanted to check the condition of the prisoners, particularly Corby,” he said. “Whether this visit was made in consideration of her ongoing application for clemency, I don’t have the capacity to answer that.”
Corby’s legal team filed a clemency bid with the president in 2010. Last year the national Justice and Human Rights Ministry recommended a five-year cut to the total term,
In recent weeks there have been persistent unconfirmed reports that Corby would be granted clemency as part of a reciprocal arrangement involving similar measures for Indonesians currently jailed in Australia.
The reports prompted Nasir Jamal, a legislator from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), to condemn the idea of Corby receiving remission. He said drugs offenders should receive severe punishment.
“Even if the clemency bid is based on humanitarian reasons, and even if it is intended to get the Australian government to respond in kind towards Indonesian fishermen convicted there of human trafficking, the Justice Ministry and Supreme Court must consider the consequences of recommending clemency,” he said, speaking in Jakarta last Wednesday.
“The ministry and the Supreme Court should consider the impacts of the clemency,” he said, adding that freeing her would send the wrong message to other would-be smugglers.
“Don’t be afraid of denying her clemency,” he said.