FREE SCHAPELLE CORBY
This case concerns Ms. Schapelle Corby, a then 27 year old Australian woman convicted of smuggling marijuana into Bali Indonesia in October 2004. At the time Ms. Corby was outrageously sentenced to 20 years in prison. Since then her sentence has been reduced to 15 years. But the sentence is still outrageous. It is far longer per amount smuggled than the sentences given out to Indonesians convicted of smuggling marijuana.
Ms. Corby was in October 2004 going to vacation to Bali with friends. When her unlocked Boogie bag was inspected by customs in Bali there were several plastic bags with a total of 4.2 kilograms marijuana present with the Boogie board. When Ms. Corby checked her baggage in the Brisbane, Australia, airport her Boogie bag was under the maximum weight. When the bag was weighted in Bali it was over the over the maximum allowed weight of 65 kilograms.
When Ms. Corby flew via Qantas Airlines to Bali, she flew from Brisbane airport to Sydney and then transferred to a flight to Bali, Indonesia. Despite the denials of some Australian officials the use by corrupt baggage handlers to use innocent tourists as unwitting drug couriers is well documented. Often the intent of the baggage handlers was to smuggle drugs from Brisbane to Sidney. In 1997 Australian travelers Steve and Dee arrived at their Bali hotel to find a package of marijuana in their luggage The Australian Consulate told them to flush the drugs down the toilet. Australian airline passenger Gary MacDonald was used as an innocent drug courier the same day Ms. Corby and her friends flew to Bali.
Mr. Ray Cooper, former Head of Internal Investigations for the Australian Federal Police, openly confirmed corrupt baggage handlers were using innocent passengers to ferry drugs between Australian domestic airports. This charge was supported by Mr. Allan Kessing, a retired Australian customs officer.
Qantas Airline baggage handlers at the time such as Norman Niass and Easton Barrington James had extensive criminal records. The Qantas security manager at the time had known criminal connections. The senior police officer in charge of investigating baggage handlers on the day Ms. Corby flew was later sentenced to years in prison for crimes committed. Ian Chalmers, a director of Macquarie Bank, the corporation which owned Sydney Airport Corporation, was smuggling drugs through Sydney Airport with the help of the baggage handlers on the same day Ms. Corby flew.
Senior Australian customs officials state that 4.2 kilograms of marijuana is a bulky, smelly substance that would not have made it through the airports with honest employees.
Yet the Bali prosecution of Ms. Corby went forward. Ms. Corby was effectively denied the right to a defense. Bali officials refused to fingerprint the marijuana plastic bags to see if some one else had placed the drug in her bag. Bali officials also refused to DNA test for the origin of the marijuana found in the bag of Ms. Corby. Officials even refused to weigh the baggage of Ms. Corby at the Bali airport for comparison with the weight posted on her ticket. Later the marijuana evidence was destroyed.
Australian officials in turn refused to provide airport videos that might have demonstrated the innocence of Ms. Corby. Somehow Qantas Airline lost every frame of the CCTV footage at the airports. It has been later verified that Ms. Corby’s unlocked Boogie bag was illegally diverted from the required x-ray screening after she checked in Brisbane Airport. This fact was not brought out in the trial. Thus Ms. Corby was denied the right to defend herself against the charges.
Moreover Ms. Corby had no history of drug smuggling or a criminal record. Ms. Corby was on a vacation with friends. She did not try to hide her bag from inspection at the Bali airport. It is highly unlikely she would smuggle marijuana in Bali were the value of the drug is much less than it is in Australia. At the time Ms. Corby flew marijuana was worth only a few cents a gram in Bali while being worth over thirty dollars a gram in Australia. Ms. Corby is the only person charged with smuggling marijuana from Australia to Indonesia. Australian customs confirm and United Nations data imply this trade does not exist.
Also the treatment of Ms. Corby after her conviction has been appalling. Ms. Corby was given a twenty year sentence that is greatly excessive for a first time drug offender. Bali murderers have received much lighter sentences. Ms. Corby was forced to serve her sentence in an overcrowded filthy prison dangerous to her physical and mental health. Ms. Corby has often harassed unjustly. She has been so distraught over the injustices inflicted upon her that she was hospitalized and medicated for depression. At time prison officials have exhibited Ms. Corby as a zoo animal.
The flimsiness of the evidence against Ms. Corby, the excessive sentence, her deteriorating mental condition make her release mandatory for the honor and reputation of Bali and Indonesia.
I will not vacation in Bali, nor can I recommend my friends and other people do so until the release of Ms. Corby and the rectification of the injustices committed upon her occur.
Office of the President
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
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