Schapelle Corby released from Bali’s Kerobokan jail

After a chaotic day, Australian drug trafficker is spending first night on parole after nine years in prison

Schapelle Corby was spending her first night on parole on Monday after being released from Bali’s Kerobokan prison after nearly a decade of protesting her innocence to the Indonesian legal system.

In chaotic scenes, the 36-year-old drug trafficker, her head completely covered with a hat and layers of scarves, emerged from the prison on Monday morning escorted by police through a jostling crowd of about 60 reporters and photographers who had been camped outside the jail for days.

She was then pursued through the streets of Kuta, calling at the prosecutor’s office and the corrections office to finalise the paperwork of her releaser before being whisked to a holiday resort on the island.

She is currently believed to be holed up with her family and also representatives of Seven Media, which is understood to have paid $2m for an exclsuive interview with the former beauty therapist.

Throughout the day, Corby refused to reply to the questions thrown at her by the media throng and it emerged that not even the officials were able to see her face.

Ketut Artha, the head of the corrections, said even he was allowed only a peek at the parolee’s face, which she has been hiding from the media with several layers - a sarong, a scarf and a hat.

Mr Artha said Bapas officials met Corby, accompanied by her guarantor, brother-in-law Wayan Widyartha, for about 20 minutes.

“I actually wanted to give her lots of directions, but in the situation it was not possible,” he told reporters.

“Lots of questions were unanswered. And when she answered, she only said yes.

“I got a chance to ask to see her face and she only opened her cover a bit,” Mr Artha said.

He advised her to try to stay calm, be kind and not violate the conditions of her parole. Those terms say that Corby, who is from the Gold Coast, must remain in Bali until 2017. She is expected to live with her sister Mercedes Corby and her Balinese brother-in-law Wayan Widiarthaat their home in Kuta.

The prison’s governor, Farid Junaedi, told reporters in Indonesian that Corby was still a prisoner and would now begin her parole. He described the 36-year-old as nervous because of the intense media scrutiny.

The drama began in the morning when Corby was bundled into a police van and ferried, under the heavy escort of more than 100 police, to the prosecutor’s office to sign the paperwork to finalise her release after serving nine years of her 15-year sentence. She was then taken to the corrections office to be read the terms of her parole.

Late last year, Widiartha reportedly paid the $13,875 fine imposed as part of Corby’s original sentence. He also wrote a letter promising that Schapelle would receive “support and guidance” upon her release and was reported to be in the prison van when she was taken from the jail on Monday.

Corby is not obliged to stay with her sister but she must inform the corrections board of any change in address and report to the office every month.

If she fails to present herself at the office more than three times in a row, notify authorities of a change of address or break any law, her parole will be revoked.

Today marks the first taste of freedom for Corby since customs officials caught her with 4.2 kilograms of marijuana stuffed into the bag of her bodyboard at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport in 2004.

Despite her repeated pleas of innocence and arguments by her defence team that the package was planted, Corby was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005. The former beauty school student spent her late twenties and early thirties in the crowded and notorious Kerobokan jail but had been granted significant cuts to her original 20-year sentence.

A total 30 months in remissions and a five-year sentence cut granted by the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2012 made her eligible for parole.

Stressing that parole is not an act of generosity by government but a “right governed by the law,” Indonesia’s justice and human rights ministry confirmed parole for Corby last Friday.

But facing political pressure from legislators and a vocal anti-narcotics group, justice minister Amir Syamsuddin refused to comment specifically about Corby’s case, saying only that the Australian woman had not received any special treatment.

Despite the significant cut in her sentence, prison has taken its toll. Corby has suffered from bouts of depression and received treatment for the condition at Denpasar hospital for several months in 2008, and again in 2009. When she applied to the Indonesian president for clemency, she said her life was at risk if she remained incarcerated.

During one bout of treatment, Corby was photographed in a nearby beauty salon with two guards but denied she was allowed to leave the prison for recreational purposes.

“I do not get days out surfing or nightclubbing,” she wrote in her book, My Story, published in 2006. “My whole existence is within this seedy little world. The beautiful world outside is becoming just a blur.”


Kate Lamb in Bali

The GuardianTramp

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