Corby Clemency Naysayers Make Their Case in Court
An anti-drug organization asked the State Administrative Court on Wednesday to postpone the government’s clemency for Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, part of a legal challenge the group is waging against what it views as a threat to Indonesia’s fight against narcotics.
Attorney Maqdir Ismail, who represents the National Anti-Drug Movement (Granat), insisted that only people who pleaded guilty should receive sentence cuts.
Corby, however, never admitted her mistake or apologized for what she did, Maqdir said.
“I don’t know what got into the president’s mind,” he said. “In 2005, he said Indonesia would not offer clemency to drug convicts, but now he’s done this. I see inconsistency here.”
Corby was found guilty in 2005 of smuggling 4.2 kilograms of marijuana and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Denpasar District Court.
In May, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono slashed five years from Corby’s 20-year term, putting her on pace for release in September 2017 and possibly earlier if she can get out on parole.
The hearing for Granat’s challenge to the clemency decision was held for an hour on Wednesday morning, with Judge Yodi Martono Wahyunadi presiding. The anti-drug group was represented by Maqdir and Granat chief Henry Yosodiningrat.
Justice and Human Rights Deputy Minister Denny Indrayana, director general for law regulations Wahidudin Adam and litigation director Mualimin Abdi were scheduled to appear for the government, but none of them showed up.
Also in Granat’s camp is Yusril Ihza Mahendra, the former justice and human rights minister and one of the country’s most prominent lawyers.
Speaking to reporters after filing the challenge, Yusril said any decision made by a state official could be contested, even if it was the president.
“Our legal challenge against the president’s decree is clearly allowed under the law,” he said.
Yusril has won several high-profile cases against the government, including one involving the dismissal of former Attorney General Hendarman Supandji.
Opposition lawmakers and anti-drug activists have criticized Yudhoyono for cutting Corby’s jail term, claiming it undermined the country’s effort to combat drug trafficking. Others accuse Yudhoyono of bowing to pressure from Canberra in granting Corby’s plea for clemency.
Yusril said the decision to slash Corby’s sentence contradicted the government’s policy to take a strict line on graft, drugs and terrorism, all of which are defined as extraordinary crimes in Indonesia. He said he feared that the decision would set a bad precedent for the country in its fight against drugs.
Yusril also argued that the president’s authority to grant clemency, enshrined in the Constitution, could be challenged because the privilege was only an amendment.
Corby filed her clemency appeal about two years ago to the president, when her lawyers said she should be released on humanitarian grounds because of mental illness.
Some activists have demanded that Australia return the favor by granting clemency to Indonesians jailed by Australia for people-smuggling.