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Schapelle Corby Goes Home to Australia

12 years after a court in Bali found her guilty of importing 4 kilos of pot into Indonesia, a charge she has always denied, Schapelle Corby is going home.

On October 8, 2004, Schapelle Corby, traveled with her half-brother and two friends from Brisbane, Australia to Bali. They were going on a holiday, to visit their sister Mercedes, who lived in Bali and was turning 30. She checked her boogie board as oversized luggage at the airport in Brisbane. It was not weighed. The flight stopped in Sydney, and then went on to Bali. Going through customs, the bag seemed heavy and police opened it. There was 4.1 kilos of pot inside. Schapelle acknowledged the boogie board and bag were hers. She denied knowing there was pot in it, and had no idea how it got there.

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She was sent to the Bali's notoriously dangerous and overcrowded hellhole of a prison called Kerobokan Prison. She went to trial, and on May 27, 2005, the verdict was read out loud by the judges, in Indonesian, with a translator for Schapelle trying to keep up. The court was a madhouse of media. I remember staying up all night to listen to the reading and live-blog it via Australian media which was live-streaming it. A few years ago I found the transcript online in English. It is here.

The judges sentenced her to 20 years. I was appalled, and have blogged every development in the case ever since. All of my coverage is accessible here.

She appealed and got a sentence cut to 15 years. The prosecutor appealed and it was changed back to 20 years. Out of appeals, she applied for clemency. It's unusual for clemency to be granted when the inmate does not admit the crime. But Schapelle held firm, and she was granted clemency in 2014, due to her deteriorated mental health. After 9 years at the hellhole prison, she had served 2/3 of her new sentence and was granted parole.

There was a catch. She had to serve the 3 years of parole in Bali. The three years is up Saturday (Friday U.S time), and she will check in for the last time, and be put on a plane to Australia. She leaves behind her dogs and the boyfriend she has been living with, and returns to a very uncertain future. She was 27 when she arrived in Bali. She's returning home at age 39.

For 4 kilos of pot she has always insisted she had nothing to do with, Indonesia took 13 years of her life. Not surprisingly, Schapelle's mental health has deteriorated. At one point during her prison stretch, she was so depressed the jail transferred her to a mental health hospital for months. The media is camped outside her door. She does not live in a "villa" as we think of "villa". Its a small place in an ordinary neighborhood. She is reluctant to leave because she's phobic about the media.

Why is she leaving early? She received some modest reductions for good time (as do thousands of prisoners in Indonesia every year at Christmas ) and the then-President thought her mental health state was so deteriorated, she granted her clemency, which allowed a further cut .

As I said, I covered everything in this case for more than 10 years. I an convinced she was innocent. But even if not, a 20 year sentence for four kilos of pot is insane.

I wish Shapelle a happy life. I hope she learns to put the past behind her and be excited about what the future holds. For the first time in 13 years, she is free. She should take a deep breath, say thanks to her family and friends who kept the pressure up, and never turn back.

And never, ever will I visit Indonesia. A country that puts pot offenders in jail for 20 years and kills foreign non-violent drug traffickers, does not deserve our tourist dollars. There are beautiful beaches all over that part of the World. I'll go there instead, and hope you all will too.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I remember (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Lora on Fri May 26, 2017 at 08:31:44 AM EST
    ...when Jeralyn called for a boycott of products from Bali.  I love the beautiful women's clothing for sale in many catalogs that I get, but when I thought about Corby Schapelle's devastating experience, their beauty was somehow spoiled for me and I did not buy any.