Australia drug convict Schapelle Corby granted parole

Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby pictured at a ceremony inside Kerobokan prison in Denpasar on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on 22 April 2008 Schapelle Corby was jailed in 2005 for smuggling marijuana into Bali

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Convicted Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby has been granted parole after serving nine years in prison, Indonesia has announced.

Corby, 36, was convicted of drug smuggling in 2005 after 4.1kg (9lb) of marijuana was found in her bag at Denpasar airport in Bali in 2004.

The former beauty student has always maintained her innocence.

Her case has attracted intense interest in Australia, with prolonged public debate over her guilt or innocence.

It also led to criticism of what was perceived by some as a tough 20-year prison sentence.

Corby was granted parole after receiving a series of cuts to her sentence for good behaviour and a five-year reduction granted by the Indonesian president after an appeal for clemency.

Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin (bottom) arrives for a press conference in Jakarta announcing Indonesia has granted parole to Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, 7 February 2014 The media turned out in force to hear the announcement by the Indonesian Justice Minister

She must serve out her parole period in Bali. She is expected to live with her sister, Mercedes, on the Indonesian island.

The announcement came in a press conference by Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin.

"After our review, we have approved 1,291 applications, there will be more. Corby is included in the 1,291 cases," he said.

"The implementation [of the release] will be carried out by the local authorities."

Analysis

Not since Lindy Chamberlain, jailed and eventually acquitted of killing her own daughter, Azaria, in 1980, has there been a more divisive female Australian inmate nor such a feast of lurid headlines, allegations and political pressure points. Much of it has been pure tabloid.

Where consensus can perhaps be found is on the length of her sentence: many Australians believe it was too long. A poll in May 2012, in Fairfax Media, found 43% in favour of her gaining clemency, even though 60% of those surveyed agreed she was guilty as charged.

He added that he did not "want to talk specifically about Schapelle" and said that she had not been given special treatment.

"Parole is not a matter of policy and not a minister's generosity. It's the right of inmates. We're a dignified country and we uphold the laws," he said.

Media frenzy

The minister refused to go into the specifics on when Corby would be released, the BBC's Alice Budisatrijo in Jakarta reports.

A prison governor said Corby could be released as early as Monday afternoon, once the correct paperwork was received, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.

Corby's mental health is said to have deteriorated while in jail.

Her case has generated intense media interest, with large numbers of Australian media gathered outside Kerobokan prison in Bali, where Corby has been held.

According to reports, Australian media are competing to pay for Corby's story following her release.

Reports say Corby will not be able to leave for Australia until 2017. She is required to stay in Indonesia for an extra year, after her sentence ends in 2016, to comply with her parole conditions.

Some Indonesian MPs had spoken out against Corby's early release on Thursday. They said it would be inconsistent with Jakarta's attempts to crack down on the drug trade.

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