Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
INDONESIAN officials have approved Schapelle Corby’s parole, opening the way for her to walk out of Kerobokan prison for the first time in over nine years.
But prison staff say the official documents must be delivered to them in hard copy before she can be released into the care of her sister, Mercedes.
The first thing Corby will confront will be media attention of the kind she has spent much of the past nine years avoiding by hiding in her cell and avoiding the prison’s open visiting yard.
A throng of local and Australian media has gathered in Kerobokan to document the release of a prisoner whose story became sensation, and to try to catch early glimpses of her post-prison life.
Justice and Human Rights minister Amir Syamsuddin made the announcement on Friday that the Australian prisoner had fulfilled all requirements for parole.
Schapelle's parole case "has been processed" along with 1291 others. Has she got it? "I won't repeat what I've said"— Michael Bachelard (@mbachelard) February 7, 2014
To guard against a perception in Indonesia that she has been given special treatment because of pressure by the Australian government, Mr Amir reiterated that Corby’s file was treated the same way as 1700 other parole applications on his desk.
The imminent release is testament to Corby’s desperation to be out of prison.
Under her parole conditions, she will not be able to return to her Gold Coast home until July 2017. If she had stayed in prison she could have been entirely free and ready to return to Australia almost two years earlier — August 2015.
This is because, in the Indonesian system, a parolee misses out on remissions for good behaviour, and must also serve an extra 12 months of “guidance” to make sure they will be of good behaviour in future.
But Corby has been miserable for years inside the small, crowded concrete cell in the women’s block, and after at one point being diagnosed with strong anti-psychotic medication, often behaves erratically.On her release, she has said she will live in Mercedes' house.
However, Ketut Artha, the head of the Bali’s correction bureau, which will supervise her parole, has confirmed to Fairfax Media that, as long as his organisation knows where she is, she could live anywhere in Bali.
If she wants to leave Bali, but stay within Indonesia, she would need approval from justice minister Amir. “But if it’s within Bali island and Bapas are made of aware of where she is, it is fine,” he said.
The decision is potentially politically controversial in Indonesia, with parliamentarians having flagged an anti-Corby campaign in an election year. MPs said on Thursday that the government was being “inconsistent” in trying to eradicate the drug trade “where the political decision doesn’t support the law enforcement”.
But though the release may offend some politicians, it is unlikely to have much public bite. Corby is known as the “Ganja Queen,” but is not as big a public figure in Indonesia as in Australia.