Corby Clemency Saga Swells With Threats, Denials on All Sides
Made Arya Kencana
After having five years cut from her sentence, Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Leigh Corby could be eligible for parole as early as Sept. 21, a high-ranking prison official said on Friday.
Kerobokan Prison chief Gusti Ngurah Wiratna said that prior to the clemency order signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on May 15, Corby had already seen her 20-year sentence reduced by 25 months since being arrested in January 2004 for smuggling four kilograms of marijuana into Bali.
The Australian was sentenced to 20 years in 2005 minus the time already served since her arrest.
“I will tell Corby the news immediately,” Gusti said.
Corby’s lawyer Iskandar Nawing said he would begin preparing the documents needed to apply for parole. “But when the parole application will be logged, I can’t tell you exactly yet,” he said.
Corby could be eligible for another sentence reduction during the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day on Aug. 17.
“In 2011, she got a five-month sentence cut, this year it is likely she will a get six-month [reduction],” Gusti said.
Indonesian and Australian media have reported that Corby’s clemency was part of a deal to get at least 20 Indonesian minors out of Australian jails.
Most of the juveniles are being held for involvement in people-smuggling. Many were reportedly working on the decks of rickety boats that were carrying asylum seekers bound for Australia.
Authorities from both countries have denied that a deal was made.
But Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin said on Friday that Australia wanted to talk about releasing Indonesian juveniles incarcerated in Australia, adding to suspicion of a prisoner-swap agreement being behind Corby’s clemency.
“Thank God, within the next two or three days we will hear from the Australian authorities,” Amir said.
Amir said Corby’s sentence reduction was not a requirement set by the Australian authorities for the release of the Indonesian minors, but acknowledged that talks had intensified after the clemency was approved by the president.
Similar diplomatic talks, he added, had resulted in clemency being awarded to Indonesians incarcerated elsewhere, including in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Human Rights Working Group, a Jakarta-based watchdog, deplored on Friday Indonesia’s suspected move to trade clemencies with Australia.
“HRWG condemns the granting of this clemency to trade for the release of the child fishermen, because basically it is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s responsibility to totally and seriously engage in diplomacy to free those children,” the group said in a statement.
It added that the Corby affair underlined Yudhoyono’s failure to live up to his commitment to be stricter when it came to granting of clemency and conditional releases for drug and corruption convicts.
The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) also condemned Corby’s clemency. It said it would challenge the president’s decision, but it did not say how.
Hajriyanto Thohari, the deputy chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), said that although the clemency deal did not violate the law, it went against the government’s own declared campaign to get tough on drugs.
“How can it be that in the midst of the war on drugs, clemency is given to a drug criminal?” he said.
Henry Yosodiningrat, a lawyer who heads the National Anti-Drug Movement (Granat), has said he is planning to take Yudhoyono to court
Another Corby lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea, dismissed the plan to take Yudhoyono to the State Administrative Court over the clemency, calling it “comic and not based on legal logic.”
“It is ridiculous and against all legal logic that a lawyer is planning to file a lawsuit against SBY for the five-year clemency for Corby,” he said.
Henry has argued that the clemency goes against general government principles and prevailing social norms.
Drug crimes, he said, should be seen as extraordinary crimes that were on a par with terrorism, corruption and money laundering.
Additional reporting from Rizky Amelia, Febriamy Hutapea & Ezra Sihite