31 May 2009
Back in the Swing -- Another Schapelle Corby Update...
It has been a week of Schapelle Corby (photo courtesy of Bintoro S. Lukman) news. It is probably important for her and her family to keep her name in the news and regularly ensuring that the news is in your face. This strategy has inherent risks as the saturation could surely backfire in that there is still plenty of people who think she is guilty countering an equally large number that think she is innocent.
Personally, I think that she is guilty. The only conspiracy theory that I have entertained and continue to feel has some legs is that it was probably her half-brother who was the smuggler. I do not believe that the failure to fingerprint would prove anything further than the prosecution making an argument that she was smart enough to wipe down the bag before putting it in the boogie board bag. The idea that it was baggage handlers was just never proved.
Should she have been sentenced to 20 years in prison? That is the Indonesian law. It is high time Australians realized that you are not subject to Australian laws when you travel to foreign locales. Simply, if you get caught with drugs in Indonesia you are going to do time, this is particularly so for commercial quantities. Narcotics trafficking are likely to see you executed.
There was an interesting article in today's Sunday Telegraph making the case that it was time for Corby to be released and sent home. The underlying premise being that she would never have had to do 20 years for the same crime in Australia and that he current medical situation warrants it. The idea being that it is better for her to be sent home before she does harm to herself.
I touched on this idea in an earlier post. My take is that prison is not a holiday farm it is supposed to be tough and you are supposed to suffer from the consequences of losing your liberty and freedom to come and go as you please. This undoubtedly depresses people. In Australian prisons these individuals would generally get the necessary medical treatment. In an Indonesian prison Corby has been given the necessary medicines and been left to her own devices, this unfortunately includes not taking her medicines as prescribed.
If Corby does harm herself I am not sure that this is going to be something that harms the broader Indonesian / Australian relationship. It might cause some tension but whether it would be enough to unsettle relations long-term does not seem likely. There are probably bigger challenges to the Indonesian / Australian relationship in the form of Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (this probably deserves a post of its own -- but is a throw away line for now).
What does the future hold for Corby. The only real legal avenue in Indonesia sans any new evidence is an appeal for clemency from the president. This would require Corby to admit guilt. This is something she has not been prepared to do to date. This is a risky strategy too, as there is no guarantee that an admission of guilt will result in automatic clemency. And, given Indonesia's stance on drugs and drug smuggling it is unlikely that an admission of guilt is likely to sway the president. In any event, in an election cycle such as now and assuming there is no run-off for the presidency, it seems unlikely that any clemency appeal will be entertained until much later in the year.
The only other option on the horizon is a prisoner exchange deal. This deal would allow Australian prisoners sentenced to terms of imprisonment in Indonesia to serve out their time in an Australian prison. Nevertheless, the horizon in this instance is still some way off by the Australian governments admission. Despite news reports to suggest that progress is being made fails to recognize that the deal is far from done.
This is evidenced in a recent statement by the Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, that the government would be willing to support a clemency request if Corby was to make one. Reading between the lines here would suggest that waiting for a prisoner exchange deal to be put into place is further away than a possible clemency grant.
The saga continues.