Schapelle Corby, Australia’s celebrity drug smuggler, was released from Bali’s notorious Kerobokan jail on Monday. She had served more than nine years of a 20-year sentence for attempting to bring 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into the Indonesian resort island – a charge that Corby and her supporters have vehemently denied since her 2005 conviction.
“The decision by Indonesia’s minister for law and human rights is welcomed,” Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, told BBC. “I hope that she’s now given some privacy as she gets her life back together.”
The prison was surrounded by both an increased police presence and the usual media circus that follows Corby-related developments as the 36-year-old was ushered into a waiting van. Corby, with her head bowed and face obscured by a scarf, made no comment to the press.
While Corby remained silent, her mother Roseleigh Rose celebrated in Queensland by popping champagne bottles and dancing.
“It was just beautiful to see my beautiful Schapelle come out from those doors,” she said, adding that she’d visit Corby in Bali “when needed.”
Others shared Rose’s elation, including members of the “Bali Nine” – a group of fellow Australians who attempted to traffic 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Indonesia back to Australia. Two are on death row, while the others face sentences ranging from 20 years to life behind bars.
Andrew Chan, who faces execution by firing squad, said that Corby’s release “gives hope for people like myself who are considering other avenues.
“I feel happy for Schapelle getting her parole papers. I know how hard it’s been for her,” he added.
For some Indonesians, Corby’s nine year prison term was seen as too lenient. After protests, the deputy to the minister who granted her parole, Denny Indrayana, was forced to defend the decision in a televised address. He claimed that only 15 percent of sentence reductions for drug prisoners have been granted since 2004.
Corby’s parole began upon her departure, and the ex-convict’s first stop was the Denpasar Prosecutions Office to fill out paperwork and submit fingerprints. She then moved to the office of corrections to complete an exit interview. Corby’s final destination on her first day of freedom is reportedly the Kuta home of her sister Mercedes – where Corby will remain until completing her parole in 2017.
“We asked her about her condition and she once cried, saying she’s still in trauma over the journalists,” Agung Bagus Kusimantara, the head of intelligence at the prosecutions office, told reporters. “Later on, each month she has to report herself here. In this process, she must come herself and can’t be represented.”
Many questions remain surrounding Corby’s 2004 arrest. She maintains that the marijuana was planted in her bodyboard bag by corrupt baggage handlers. A best-selling book about the case, Sins of the Father, claims that Corby’s father – aided by an Australian drug syndicate – was behind the attempted drug shipment. Yesterday, the book’s author told The Age that he had suffered from constant death threats, stalking, and computer hacks after it was published.