Important People in Bali: Schapelle Corby

schapelle corbySchapelle Corby is a name that conjures up all the bad things that can happen to a person in Bali. Here is a breakdown of the Schapelle Corby story, by Wikipedia.

Schapelle Leigh Corby (born 10 July 1977) is an Australian drug smuggler, convicted by the Denpasar (Indonesia) District Court.

She is currently serving her 20 year sentence for the importation of 4.1 kg of cannabis into Bali, Indonesia. She is a former shop assistant and beauty therapy student from Queensland. She was convicted and sentenced in Bali on May 27, 2005 and is currently serving her sentence in Kerobokan Prison, Bali. On appeal, her conviction and sentence have been confirmed with finality by the Indonesian Supreme Court, with legal manoeuvres continuing on her behalf.

She maintains that the drugs were planted in her bag, and that she did not know about them. Her trial and conviction were a major focus of attention for the Australian media.

While in Australia, Corby lived on the Gold Coast. She did a part-time beauty therapy course at TAFE, finishing two of four course modules. She then worked in her family’s fish and chip shop .

In 1996 Corby met and started living with a Japanese tourist named Kimi. In 1998 Corby moved to Japan with Kimi and they were married 3 months later. Corby and Kimi separated in mid 2000.

Corby stopped over in Bali on her way home to Australia. She had been to Bali five times since the age of 16-though some of those trips were stop overs on her way to or from Japan.

Arrest and trial

On October 8, 2004, Corby was apprehended by Indonesian customs agents at Ngurah Rai Airport on her arrival in Bali, Indonesia, from Australia. Corby was found to have 4.1 kilograms of cannabis in her unlocked bodyboard bag. Customs officer Gusti Nyoman Winata alleged that she tried to prevent him opening the compartment of the bag containing the cannabis. Corby denied this allegation during the trial, saying she originally opened the bag after being asked by Winata whose bag it was.

Corby stated that she had no knowledge of the drugs. Her defence centred on the theory that she had become an unwitting drug courier for what was supposed to have been an interstate shipment of drugs between Brisbane and Sydney in Australia.

Prima facie case
According to Professor Tim Lindsay, director of the University of Melbourne’s Asian Law Centre, the prosecution had a prima facie case against Corby, established merely by her possession of the narcotics, regardless of her knowledge. In a lecture given at Melbourne University, he said, “Suffice to say that being caught with drugs on you, whether strapped to you or in a bag that is your property, is probably going to be sufficient in most instances for the prosecution to establish a prima facie case. The question then arises as to how that prima facie case is answered by a defence team.”

Corby’s lawyers gave a different version of the event, saying that she had no knowledge of the cannabis until the customs at the airport found it. They claimed that baggage handlers in Brisbane may have put the cannabis in her bag without her knowledge, acting as part of an inter-state drug smuggling network. According to her attorneys, the cannabis was to be removed in Sydney, but wasn’t.

Three of Corby’s travelling companions testified in court that they had seen Corby pack her bag before leaving for the airport and that only the flippers and yellow bodyboard were inside it. They also said that Corby did open the bag herself at the customs counter.

John Ford’s allegations
John Patrick Ford, a prisoner at Port Phillip Prison who was awaiting trial and was subsequently convicted on charges of rape, was flown to Indonesia to give evidence in Corby’s defence.

Ford testified that he overheard a conversation in prison between two men and alleges that one of the men planted the marijuana in Corby’s bodyboard bag in Brisbane with the intention of having another person remove it in Sydney. He stated that the drugs were owned by Ron Vigenser, who had been a prisoner at the same gaol as Ford. He stated that a mix-up resulted in the marijuana not being removed and subsequently being transported to Indonesia, all without Corby’s knowledge. He refused to name the man whom he states planted the drugs. In the Australian media Vigenser has strenuously denied any connection with the drugs and has reportedly given a statement to the Australian Federal Police.

A $1,000,000 AUD reward was offered for information to substantiate claims made by Ford about baggage handlers with no result. Since his return from Bali, Ford was convicted of rape. Ford was beaten and stabbed in prison and was held in solitary confinement for his own protection.

The prosecution pointed out that his evidence was entirely hearsay and that he was facing trial for several serious offences in Australia. Legal commentators in Australia have remarked that Ford’s testimony, as hearsay, would be inadmissible evidence in an Australian court. Professor Tim Lindsay stated that the defence case contained “virtually nothing that was admissible evidence to be given weight under Indonesian criminal procedure law”. An Indonesian judge referred to Ford’s evidence as “Hearsay upon hearsay”.

Alleged involvement of baggage handlers
According to the Sydney Morning Herald Corby flew out of Sydney on the same day (8 October 2004) as a large shipment of cocaine was shipped out of the airport by a drug ring involving corrupt baggage handlers. During the week of 9 May 2005 in Australia several arrests occurred related to cocaine smuggling through Sydney airport. Her defense claimed that the cannabis was planted in her bag by mistake by baggage handlers.

However, the AFP commissioner Mick Keelty stated that a key aspect of her defence was not supported by the available intelligence and that the cocaine-smuggling ring which had been discovered involved the reception of shipments of drugs from overseas, not the transportation of drugs domestically. No CCTV footage from the day of travel exists.

Ron Bakir
Ron Bakir, a Gold Coast entrepreneur and discharged bankrupt, claimed that he had retained the services of the Australian law firm Hoolihans to investigate the origin of the drugs. He made statements suggesting that he would fund Corby’s defense. Bakir later registered a company titled Schapelle Corby Pty Ltd, and made statements to Corby’s family that they owed him several hundred thousand dollars.

Bakir accused the prosecution team (chief prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu) of seeking a bribe to reduce the requested sentence. The prosecution team and the Indonesian government vehemently denied that this occurred. Corby’s legal team were openly angry with Bakir since this could cause the imposition of a more severe penalty.

Bakir cut ties with the Schapelle Corby case on 24 June 2005 after Corby wrote a letter asking to disassociate herself. Schapelle Corby Pty Ltd was voluntarily deregistered on 23/10/2005.

Corby’s pleas
Corby made numerous emotional pleas to be released. At the defence’s last address to the court, April 29, 2005, Corby said to the three judges:
“I cannot admit to a crime I did not commit. And to the judges, my life at the moment is in your hands, but I would prefer if my life was in your hearts….And your Honour, I ask of you to show compassion, to find me innocent, to send me home. Saya tidak bersalah (“I am not guilty”, in Indonesian).” Corby also wrote to the case’s prosecutor, Ida Bagus Wiswantanu, and judges with a request for leniency.

The following points have been identified by many as flaws in the way Corby and her team presented her case:

•The rejection of an offer of experienced defence barristers: After the verdict, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer revealed that the government had offered the free help of two highly skilled Queen’s Counsel and that this offer was rejected. However the family took up the offer for the High court appeal, but after more damaging allegations of bribery by the barristers, further assistance was refused.
•Failure to attack the weaknesses of forensic evidence. The bag of cannabis was not weighed or fingerprinted by the Indonesians. Tim Lindsay of the University of Melbourne, Asian law expert, suggested that a greater focus on the weaknesses of the forensic evidence could have been helpful.
•Use of hearsay evidence: No substantive probative evidence was presented to back up the suggestion that baggage handlers had put the drugs in Corby’s bag. Hearsay evidence from John Patrick Ford was a distraction and had no chance of being accepted as having probative value.
•Other agendas: Defence lawyers and other Corby supporters often seemed to be equally interested in their own publicity and celebrity as they were with Corby’s interests.
•Trial by media: Seemingly no effort was made to lower the profile of the case in the media. Even minor issues were the subject of headlines. The high profile of the case made it impossible to come to a quiet, negotiated settlement with the Indonesian justice system.
•Persons associated with Corby publicly attacked the Indonesian judges and legal system in the media. (Notably Ron Bakir suggested that bribery was inherent in the system.)




Criticism of the prosecution’s case included:
•The bag of cannabis was not fingerprinted by the Indonesian custom officials or police, nor analysed to determine its source of origin.
•Indonesia police rejected assistance from Australian Federal Police to DNA test the cannabis and bag. On December 3rd 2004 Corby signed papers for her consent for testing to be done by the AFP but Indonesian Police would not release a sample. Since then, the Australian ABC has reported that the Indonesian Police did provide the samples and that Corby’s team declined to have them tested

Verdict and sentence
Schapelle Corby found guilty, sentenced to 20 years.

The verdict in the Corby trial was broadcast live on television in Australia, and the Nine Network television coverage was also broadcast live in New Zealand. The coverage included the eighty page trial outline, the verdict and sentencing.

• On 27 May 2005 Corby was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years’ jail. She was also fined 100,000,000 IDR ($A12,663 AUD), with an additional six months if unpaid. The defence and prosecution appealed separately to the High Court, the defence appealing for a retrial, the prosecution appealing for life imprisonment.

• On 17 August 2006, Indonesia’s Independence Day, Corby received a two-month remission on her 20-year jail term. On December 26, 2006, it was reported she had received another month’s remission for good behaviour, advancing her release date to July, 2024.

• On 5 July 2005, the High Court ruled that the case should be reopened by the district court, allowing the defence to call new witnesses. The onus was on the defence team to call sufficient witnesses to prove that Corby did not place the drugs in her boogie board bag. A man was named as the owner of the drugs in Corby’s bag. He was named as a key witness, but he said that he ‘knows nothing’.

• On October 14, 2005, Bali’s High Court reduced the sentence to 15 years. Both sides again appealed, this time to Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

Corby’s 20 year sentence reinstated.
• On 19 January 2006, the Indonesian Supreme Court overturned the five year reduction in her sentence on appeal and reinstated the original 20 year jail term handed down. The Court also ordered that the evidence – the bodyboard bag and drugs – be destroyed, signalling that the case was now closed.

The three-judge panel also rejected a final appeal from Corby, whose lawyers had been seeking a lighter sentence or acquittal meaning all legal avenues have been exhausted unless exceptional new evidence can be produced to reopen the case.

•On 25 August 2006, Schapelle Corby appeared before the judges of the Denpasar District Court on an extraordinary appeal. Her lawyers submitted a letter from an Australian government official that CCTV cameras were operating at Sydney airport on the day she left, and indicated that they hoped that footage (although none seems to exist) would show drugs being put into Corby’s bag. Corby’s lawyers also alleged that the trial court did not have evidence of actual ownership of the drugs and so erred in convicting her. The judges agreed to wait ten days to see if such footage turns up before sending the record to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in several months. There is no possibility of this appeal increasing the term of Corby’s current sentence. However, should the attempt fail, her sole recourse is clemency from Indonesia’s president – but Corby would have to admit guilt to apply.Negotiations for a proposed prisoner exchange treaty, whereby Corby might be able to serve her time in an Australian prison, have been postponed until 2007.

Corby is currently scheduled for transfer to the Sukun Women’s Prison at Malang, near Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya in East Java, due to prison overcrowding at Bali’s Kerobokan Prison. Her supporters have decried the move.

News Limited photographs
It was reported that a conjunct South Australian-Queensland police operation had seized photographs of Corby with a man charged with marijuana smuggling after a police search of the alleged trafficker’s home. Pictures of Corby smoking from a pipe were shown on network TV.

It was originally believed by South Australian police and reported in the media that the photos had been taken prior to Corby’s arrest in Bali. Subsequently, it was found that the photos were taken in Kerobokan prison after her arrest and that the man was merely one of many hundreds of people that visited Corby in prison.

Effect on relations with Indonesia
The Corby case generated intense controversy in Australia and at times expressed publicly with a perceived anti-Indonesian bias, caused tension in Australia’s relationship with Indonesia. Mainstream Indonesian media showed minimal interest in the story with the small exception of Bali newspapers. Some small-circulation English language publications such as The Jakarta Post and the Bali Sun gave moderate levels of coverage.

A letter was delivered to the Indonesian embassy in Canberra containing an unknown substance on May 31, 2005. It was later found to be non-toxic and was considered a hoax.

It was frequently reported in Australian and Indonesian media that many Australians called aid agencies and demanded donations for the 2004 Tsunami relief be refunded. In response, officials of Australia’s largest agencies – including World Vision, headed by Tim Costello – stated publicly that only a small number of people had made demands for refunds [citation needed].

Australian government response
During the trial, Corby’s father wrote to Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, saying in part
“As a father and as a leader, I plead for your help. I did not do this. I beg for justice. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Please bring me home.”

Howard was quoted as saying in response:
“ I feel for her. I understand why there’s a lot of public sympathy for her; I would simply say that I hope justice is done and it’s a fair and true verdict…I would ask the rhetorical question: My fellow Australians, if a foreigner were to come to Australia and a foreign government were to start telling us how we should handle (it), we would react very angrily to that.”

The Australian Labor Party generally supported the Government’s approach to the case in not wanting to offend Indonesia, while Australian Greens leader Bob Brown condemned the verdict.

The Australian Government is pursuing a prisoner exchange programme with Indonesia, which may include Corby. However, Corby has stated she is not interested in being exchanged, with her mother saying that Corby has no desire to be among the “big butch sheilas” in Australian women’s prisons.

Media and public response
There was considerable media interest in and popular discussion of Schapelle Corby’s predicament. The theory that Australian baggage handlers had placed the drugs in her baggage received considerable attention. For many months, every minor development in the case was highlighted on prime-time TV. For example, a minor “collapse” in the court engendered much erroneous speculation that she was pregnant to her erstwhile financial backer, Ron Bakir.

A poll commissioned and published in June 2005 by the Sydney Morning Herald found that opinion was divided whether Corby was guilty but there was a perception that the trial had not been carried out fairly.

In Australia, over 100,000 people signed a petition that they believe Corby should be freed. On the other hand, in Indonesia about 40 protesters gathered on 5 June 2005 at the Australian embassy in Jakarta calling for Corby to receive the death sentence, carrying placards with words such as ‘”Corby, trafficker, must die”‘.

On 15 February 2007, it was reported that both Today Tonight and A Current Affair are in “battle” over the Jodi Power and Mercedes Corby rift and having “experts” refuting each others claims on the competing programs.

Family drug links

Michael Corby
During the 1970’s, Schapelle’s father, Michael Corby was convicted of possession of cannabis. He indicated that he was fined AUD$400 for possession of two grams of cannabis. However, he stated that the cannabis was not his, saying “Some girl had it and they busted the whole place and I had to go along for the ride”

A commercial quantity of high grade cannabis weighing 5 kg was seized from a property located beside that of Michael Corby one month prior to his daughters arrest. Corby’s father and neighbour had also lived in properties alongside each other in Middlemount, Queensland, 500 km north of their current location, whilst both worked at the German Creek Mine during the 1990’s.

Clinton Rose
Her half-brother Clinton Rose has spent time in gaol for a range of offences. He was serving a 15 month sentence in Queensland for breaking and entering, and fraud. It was reported that he also has a drug possession charge. This was his second time in prison.

James Kisina’s arrest
Kisina was travelling with Corby when she was arrested in Bali. He had also been carrying the bodyboard bag before the arrest and had appeared in the media to support his sister.

On the same day as the reinstatement of Corby’s original sentence, he appeared in a Brisbane Magistrates Court on drug possession and assault charges. Kisina, along with two friends allegedly invaded the home of a well-known trafficker, tied up the occupants and bashed a male occupant before fleeing with a quantity of cannabis and cash. It is alleged by police that the residents were threatened with iron bar and menaced with a machete. On 17 January 2006, Queensland Police found cannabis in the home of Schapelle Corby’s mother and half-brother.

Police stated that the house in which James Kisina broke into had been watched by police for some time and that the occupant of the home was a known trafficker.

Kisina’s lawyer has denied this and claimed his client broke into the home believing its occupants may have had information that could assist in Schapelle Corby’s sentence appeal. On 8 March 2006, Kisina appeared in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court in relation to the drug-related home invasion and was committed to stand trial after a committal hearing in June.

In Beenleigh District Court on October 13, 2006, Kisina pleaded guilty to eight charges: two counts of deprivation of liberty, two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, and one count each of producing a dangerous drug, possessing a dangerous drug, possessing an item used in a criminal offence and entering a dwelling. He was sentenced on October 16, 2006 to a four year suspended sentence with a 10 month non-parole period. With time already served, he is expected to be released from prison on November 18, 2006.

Jodi Power’s allegations
On February 12, 2007, Jodi Power, a longtime Corby family friend, appeared on current affairs television program Today Tonight during a paid interview filmed in December 2006. Power, who, with her two children, lived for months in Bali during the trial to support Schapelle Corby, made allegations that Corby’s sister Mercedes had previously asked Power to transport drugs to Bali. Power also alleged that Mercedes had confessed to smuggling compressed cannabis concealed inside her body into Indonesia.

Power claimed that she had seen a vacuum sealed plastic bag similar to the one Schapelle Corby was convicted of using to transport the cannabis to Indonesia at Mercedes Corby’s house. She said,”They were getting marijuana out of it. It looked like the same bag.”In a further inverview, when asked if Schapelle Corby takes drugs, Power replied, “Yes … I know she’s had ecstasy, speed, cocaine.”

Power took three polygraph tests on the program, failing the first, however passing the last two. She maintained that she had told the truth about Schapelle Corby but had failed the first polygraph test because she had lied in response to personal questions relating to herself.

Power alleged that the Corby family had lied when stating they had no connections to cannabis. Photographs shown on the program reveal Mercedes smoking what appears to be cannabis. Mercedes has admitted to having “the occasional puff [of marijuana] whilst a teenager” and indicated that it was her in the photographs shown on Today Tonight, but that they were taken at age 17. Power herself has admitted to marijuana use–at the Corby house.

In response to the statements made by Power, Mercedes was quoted as saying,”Schapelle is in her final appeal and for Jodi to come out and lie is low” stating that the claims can damage Corby’s appeal.

Mercedes Corby says she is considering legal action against the producers of Today Tonight. She was interviewed in response to Power’s claims on 14 February on A Current Affair.

Power’s mother, Margaret Power, was interviewed on the February 13, 2007 edition of Today Tonight. She stated that her daughter was telling the truth and then suggested that Mercedes also take a polygraph test, expressing her belief that she would fail it.

Today Tonight reports that the polygraph expert who conducted the lie detector test on Jodi Power has recieved numerous death threats.

Autobiography: My Story
In November 2006, Corby released an autobiography “My Story”. Although the book has been popular, selling in excess of 75,000 copies, it was panned by critics. Copyrights for the book were assigned by Corby to her sister, Mercedes, and co-author Kathryn Bonella in a move some believe will allow Corby to access proceeds from the sale of the book and avoid Australian laws which restrict convicted criminals from profiting from the proceeds of crime.

It was also revealed that Qantas had banned any advertising or sales of the book in their terminals as it was deemed “inappropriate”.

The Schapelle Corby saga is ongoing and will likely include a move to a women’s prison in Java, a final verdict from Indonesia’s Supreme Court, and a chance at a prisoner transfer deal that is coming.

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