Checking in on Schapelle Corby

Every few weeks since 2005, I've been checking the Australian news for updates on Schapelle Corby, a 29 year old Australian who is serving 20 years in a hellhole of an Indonesian prison for smuggling 4 kilos of pot into Bali in her boogie board, a crime of which she has always maintained her innocence.. I only post updates here when there's been some actual news. (All TalkLeft coverage is accessible here.)

Schapelle's sister, Mercedes Corby, and her Balinese husband were spending five months in Bali when Schapelle was arrested. Mercedes'poignant, very moving account of how all their lives have changed is in last Sunday's Telegraph.

Thursday, there was a news article saying Australia and Indonesia are still haggling over words in the draft of their prisoner exchange treaty, which would allow Schapelle to return to Australia to finish serving her sentence.


Under the deal, Australians who have exhausted all avenues of appeal in Indonesia would be allowed to serve the rest of their term in an Australian jail.

Debate has centred on what portion of the sentence can be served at home, with both Governments requiring a percentage be served in the country where the offence took place.

The Corby family has been attacked pretty heavily in the Australian media. Mercedes, who was not paid for the interview, describes her life in Bali in last week's article. Accomplisheed surfers, she and her husband and children live with 30 of his relatives on a compound that has no shower or tub, no oven or stove and only a sqatting toilet. (They are all religious Hindus.) It's pretty astounding, especially considering she and her husband planned on raising and educating their children in Australia.

Their children are tri-lingual (English, Balinese and Indonesian).

With the simple innocence of children, they’ve easily slipped into Balinese life. They spend a lot of time running around the compound squealing and laughing with their cousins. They’re just little Balinese kids now. They’re happy and have adapted well.

Although we wanted our children to be educated in Australia, we’ve had to accept a different path for them. What has happened to Schapelle has changed the course of their lives. We will stay here as long as Schapelle is in jail.

A little bit more:

I’m trying to live as normal a life as possible, but I’ve forgotten what it feels like to live without stress and strain and to feel good. My heart aches with sadness. My little sister is losing her life.

We never know what hell is around the next turn. People often used to comment that I looked very young for my age, now I know I look a lot older than I am.

I live with an aching heaviness, a deep sadness and a tightness in my stomach, like an elastic band has been twisted tightly around it. Will my beautiful sister ever get to have a family or enjoy her life? ....I know she is innocent and I will keep fighting for her freedom and for answers. I will never stop. I will never give up.

Good for you Mercedes. Here's a picture of Mercedes and her family. Schapelle, by the way, likes to get letters. Here's a picture of her cooking rice in her jail cell.

You can write to her at:

Schapelle Corby C/- LPM Kerobokan Jl.
Tangkuban Perahu Kerobokan,
Denpasar 80117 Bali, INDONESIA

Here's a Schapelle website maintained with the approval of her family.

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    Schapelle Corby (none / 0) (#1)
    by SG on Sun Apr 22, 2007 at 08:18:04 PM EST
    Please...a little objectivity here.

    Firstly, I'm an expat living in Bali for many years.

    You seem to make the assumption that Schapelle is probably innocent. As most Australian jurists I've read have said, in almost every country of the world, on the presented evidence she would have been found guilty.

    I've looked at this over and over again and have no doubt she did the crime (and this was not the first time). There is a ready market for this sort of drug up here...sold by non-Indonesians, so she clearly had a distributor up here. Who that was, I'm not willing to speculate online although there seems to be some agreement amongst locals, the police I've talked to, and expats here, based on experience and local knowledge.

    Assuming she's guilty, she got caught. I feel sorry for her...20 years is a bummer but if she and her family had shut up, it may well have been less. But they, and the Australian media made a huge fuss, threw racism into the mix, and so an example was made of her. People have, too, received longer sentences for less in western nations in the past. It's bad but she knew the risks.

    Then we come to her book, and her sister's media campaign...once again, local knowledge leads me to believe all they are doing aggravating her position....she'll never be pardoned or have her time cut whilst they continue to make this noise, and she's largely turned the Australian public against her. The early support has evaporated, and it seems her innocence is only touted now by the fringe. Stories in the right wing Australian press..as linked to by you..don't help.

    Finally, the lifestyle and the amenities Mercedes live with are the traditional Balinese way of life. She married a Balinese in Bali...that is how Balinese live, and live well and happily. The family does not have an oven or stove...uh, so what....three million Balinese live comfortable healthy lives without requiring such...and eat very well. The comments you made are culturally ignorant, and feel vaguely racist in their tone.

    Schapelle Corby (none / 0) (#2)
    by DJ Wolf on Sat May 12, 2007 at 01:01:32 AM EST
    The real tragedy here is that people have said that they have looked at this case when they haven't.

    First off, there never has been any Australian marijuana in Bali.  There is none now nor will there ever be.  Hydroponic growth is growth in an artificial environment.  Hydroponically grown marijuana can be grown anywhere and it will be the same.  What's more the dried and cured end product cannot be identified as being hydroponic or soil grown outside of a laboratory.  Contrary belief is urban myth fuelled by bravado.  If there is Australian marijuana in Bali, which would support the guilty case, why has none ever been seized and no Western dealers ever been arrested?

    Secondly, guilty people don't plead for an investigation.  They don't beg for fingerprint evidence to be preserved, nor do they officially request in writing that the marijuana be forensically tested for country of origin and a DNA testing of the hair that would undoubtedly be caught in the sticky resin.

    Most telling of all was that Schapelle's four pieces of luggage weighed 65Kg when checked in at Brisbane.  Both Mercedes and Schapelle begged the Bali Police to weigh her luggage, which would have determined guilt or innocence there and then.  They refused and said that such weighing was `unnecessary'.

    How did the Bali Police know that Schapelle's fingerprints were not on the bag?  How did they know Schapelle's hair was not in the marijuana?  Why didn't they want to prove that she had the drugs when she checked in her luggage at Brisbane?

    The prosecution required two pieces of evidence to prove Schapelle was guilty.  The first was the marijuana itself.  The second piece they used was hearsay testimony from a custom's officer who could barely be understood in English and claimed that Schapelle had said, "the marijuana is mine."  Schapelle has never stopped claiming her innocence and would never have said this even if she were guilty.  Why was all the rest of the evidence `unnecessary'?  If she were guilty, shouldn't all of the evidence have confirmed this?  Since Schapelle allegedly acquired $40,000 worth of drugs in Australia, why is it that the Australian police refuse to investigate her, her family, her associates, properties and assets for a crime committed in Australia?

    What do you call someone who wants everything investigated?  Innocent.  What do you call someone who conceals, disallows or destroys evidence?  Guilty.  What do you call a trial where the police determine what will and what will not be seen by the judges?  What the Bali Police disallowed was Schapelle's defence - all she had left was the prayer that the guilty person would come forward.  That is what is called a `sham' trial.

    The noise that the Corbys are making is the cry for justice that will not stop because Schapelle is innocent.


    DJ Wolfe (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Sat May 12, 2007 at 02:28:27 AM EST
    I agee with you.  The evidence presented in the media leads me to conclude she was innocent and little by little, the courts disallowed her from bringing in witnesses and other evidence tha might have demonsrated this.

    It's one of the reasons I will keep following her case.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.


    Not true (none / 0) (#4)
    by SG on Fri May 18, 2007 at 10:18:56 AM EST
    First off, there never has been any Australian marijuana in Bali.  There is none now nor will there ever be.  Hydroponic growth is growth in an artificial environment.  Hydroponically grown marijuana can be grown anywhere and it will be the same.  What's more the dried and cured end product cannot be identified as being hydroponic or soil grown outside of a laboratory.  Contrary belief is urban myth fuelled by bravado.  If there is Australian marijuana in Bali, which would support the guilty case, why has none ever been seized and no Western dealers ever been arrested?

    I'm sorry that's a complete nonsense. Aussie pot is on offer in Bali and has been for years. As a resident Oz pot has been offered to me several times. Your argument is a non starter I'm afraid. It's not common now but about two years ago it was often on offer...somebody was bringing it in. It has nothing to do with strength or whether it was hyroponically grown, it was offered as a safe alternative to the guys on Double Six or Dana Pura who as often as not were tied into the cops. And thus it sells for a good price, much higher than the local weed.

    I'm still undecided about her guilt...but certainly I've seen your arguments before, and I've seen them just as effectively countered. I'm not sure how the absence of her fingerprints could have proved her innocence...its an odd claim. She had the goods.

    And the Indonesian Customs guy spoke perfectly acceptable English, as they do at Customs..they speak it all day long. I have no doubt he was able to understand what she was saying.

    I think you need to have a little more to make an argument, and you also need to answer the why question...why did they want to frame or shaft the girl...what possible advantage was there for the Police to ram through a conviction...it hurts them, their country and their system.

    Kudos (none / 0) (#5)
    by Morpheus on Mon Jun 23, 2008 at 03:59:42 PM EST
    On that fateful day when I first discovered the Schapelle Corby story (I documented it here: http://www.schapelle.net/blog/2008/06/beginning-morpheus-meets-schapelle.html ), this was the first website I found describing the events.

    I have since created an international support site, and of course the mandatory blog. So a genuine thank you for reporting the awful events so graphically and accurately. And most of all, for not forgetting her.

    I have researched intensely. Yes, she is innocent. The drip-drip of media propaganda is not going to change that fact, although it is apparently enough to fool an awful lot of people.

    I don't have to repeat the basic facts (DJ Wolf does a great job above), but I have recently added an assessment of the case itself, and how the Indonesian Judiciary systematically breached their own laws, and the UN International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, in their quest to convict her. It can be found here: www.schapelle.net/report.html

    Finally: hopefully you will continue to report this case and support her. She needs as much help as we can muster.

    Kudos an dthanks to you.