New hope for Schapelle Corby
May 15, 2013
Indonesia’s President has significantly boosted Schapelle Corby’s chance of parole by apparently clearing away the biggest remaining hurdle — her immigration status.
A new regulation signed on April 16 but still poorly understood in Indonesia means Corby’s lawyers can go ahead and lodge the convicted cannabis smuggler’s parole application.
They have been delaying because of worries that the Immigration Department would not allow her to serve out her sentence while living with sister Mercedes and brother-in-law Wayan Widyartha in Bali.
Her sentence does not end until 2017.
But the new regulation says foreigners who are serving “prison time” do not need a stay permit to live in the country. A footnote describes prison time as including time spent on parole.
After President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono granted the convicted cannabis smuggler a five-year sentence reduction last May, Corby has served enough of her sentence (two-thirds) to be eligible for parole.
But her family has not yet applied because several hurdles have remained in the way.
Apart from the immigration issue, another hurdle has been the requirement under a different regulation (signed last November) that she be a “justice collaborator” — helping police bust other criminals — and also express guilt and remorse for her crimes. As she has never agreed that she committed any crime, Corby cannot express remorse for it.
However, the larger concern has always been Immigration, which must provide a letter to the parole board clarifying her status.
In Indonesia’s arcane law-making environment, the new regulation was buried in article 48-5 of the immigration law passed in May 2011.
However, laws are further clarified by government regulations which are passed to enact them and, in this case, the regulation did not achieve presidential sign-off until April 16.
Article 115-1 of the regulation states that a foreigner serving prison time does not require a stay permit, and in the explanation of that, “prison time” includes specific leave, assimilation (time out of prison towards the end of a sentence to help in the adjustment process) and parole.
Corby’s lawyer Iskandar Nawing was initially blindsided by the new regulation when approached by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
"I will have to find out more about it first," he said. "I will have to study it before I can comment or act on it."
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also said Australian officials were “seeking to clarify with Indonesian authorities the implications of the new immigration regulations for her application”.
The regulation comes two months after Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin, who is also in charge of immigration, met and shook hands with Corby in Kerobokan prison and said that, while her parole faced difficulties, some were “technical” in nature.
Australia has supported Corby’s parole application, even to the extent of providing an unprecedented guarantee of her good behaviour if she is free and living in Bali. The family of Mercedes has also provided the required guarantee letter that she will live with them.
Schapelle Corby was convicted in 2004 of smuggling 4.2kg of marijuana into Bali in her boogie-board bag, and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. She has maintained her innocence.