29 November 2010

Have Three Prime Ministers Really Failed Schapelle Corby?

It really is hard not to have a chuckle when stories like this wend their way into the media. Admittedly, Lawyers Weekly is not the most mainstream of media, but it is a publication that shares the concerns and voices of lawyers. So, in that sense, Kerry Smith-Douglas is a lawyer, she does represent the Corby Family in Australia (as far as I can tell), and there are interesting legal issues to be discussed and debated in this case.

Unfortunately, the significant issues that need to be debated here are not whether John Howard, Kevin Rudd, and now Julia Gillard have failed Schapelle Corby. The reality that the talking head that is Kerry Smith-Douglas fails to comprehend is that there are protocols and methods to the madness that constitute international relations that do not include successive Australian Prime Ministers jumping up and down on the spot and shaking their fingers at the democratically elected president of the Republic of Indonesia saying "give us back our girl or else!"

There is nothing funny about Schapelle Corby's case nor the predicament that she finds herself in. Kerobokan Prison is not a great prison to be doing a 20-year stretch in for smuggling drugs into the sovereign state of Indonesia. However, Kerobokan is not the worst prison in Indonesia nor is it the worst prison in Asia. Nevertheless, there are many people who think she has done enough time and it is time that she came home to Australia. Yet, it would be irresponsible to suggest that all Australians are in support of Schapelle Corby's repatriation to Australia, because they are not. There are still significant numbers of people, at least anecdotally, who argue "if you do the crime, you do the time".

This post is not about the technicalities of her conviction. If you want to read those posts then search this blog using the term "Schapelle Corby". Justice in this case was served in Indonesia. The cold hard reality that some refuse to accept is that the alleged crime occurred in Indonesia, Corby was arrested in Indonesia, she was prosecuted in Indonesia and she has been jailed in Indonesia since her conviction. The case was appealed pursuant to Indonesian law and these appeals ultimately failed. The case has be subject to judicial review and this failed to alter the result. The final step in this process is an appeal for clemency, this is pending a decision by the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

It is a little bit weird to now start blaming this outcome on successive Australian Prime Ministers, isn't it? This case went belly-up, it was cactus, it was poisoned way before any of the past three Australian Prime Ministers could have conceivably launched a successful intervention. What remains now is some pretty solid bilateral lobbying and diplomacy. I am sure there will be those out there who want to jump in and argue that being silent has not served their cause well. Maybe this is so, but to be honest, I have not heard silence in this case since the outset. This has been a media circus from day one.

Final point, I am not going to argue that the best solution for Corby is to wait for a prisoner transfer agreement. However, that remains an option. The best bet is some form of humanitarian clemency from the Indonesian president that sees Corby's sentence slashed to time served. The most likely outcome is that she will be released having done at least 10 years of her sentence. Therefore, the clemency appeal will be successful in gaining a reduction in her sentence to about 15 years. Then with continued remissions for good behaviour, Corby will see freedom as early as 2014.

The problem here is not three successive Australian Prime Ministers failing Schapelle Corby, the problem has always been one of bad advice in the critical first few days after arrest.

I hope she is released immediately and returns to Australia as a free woman.

Ho hum...


Richard Halcomb said...

What made me laugh was all of the people who were offended over Michelle Leslie donning Islamic garb, in order to help her case. If I thought it would help me avoid time in an Indonesian Prison, I would wear a frilly pink tutu into court every day!

I personally suspect that one of the Corby's was guilty. I'm not sure it was Schapelle, but I don't think it was planted either!

Rob Baiton said...

@ Richard...

Hey there mate!

Yep, agreed on the Michelle Leslie front. You are not going to endear yourself to the "real and true" Corby supporters out there (as they call themselves).

I once suggested that it might make sense to consider a plea / confession if the Indonesians came back and said "right, we are prepared to release you if you confess to the crime and show a little remorse by saying sorry".

Needless to say I was called all manner of things, although nothing that I had not heard before (after all I went to HAHS) :)

The primary question that remains unanswered to any satisfaction is how 4kgs of weed went from Brisbane via Sydney to Denpasar without detection until reaching Bali. That doesn't mean she or one of her colleagues did not do it, it would just provide a little insight in how the smuggling operation might have worked.

As I said, ho hum...

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