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29 May, 2005

Australians Rage Over Schapelle Corby Verdict in Bali


The following is a roundup of reactions in Australia after Schapelle Corby’s sentencing on drug smuggling charges in Bali.


May 28, 2005


Talkback callers were quick to voice their disgust yesterday after Schapelle Corby’s sentencing. Many vowed to boycott Bali as a destination, including one Melbourne travel agent who said she had already cleared her office of Bali promotions.

“Marlene from Strathmore” called the ABC and said she would also actively dissuade the public from going to Bali by suggesting other destinations. “As a travel agent, I am going to take a stand . . . I have already ripped down every single thing relating to Bali,” she said. “There are plenty of other places to go.”

However, according to others in the industry, any reaction is likely to be shortlived. Flight Centre executive general manager (product) Paul Scurrah said he expected the impact to be minimal. “Bali is a resilient destination, particularly through recent history. Any downturn is usually short term,” he said.

He said the timing of the Corby verdict – which comes after the 2002 bombings, allegations of child abuse at some resorts and the arrest of the Bali nine for alleged heroin trafficking – would not be damaging for tourism.

Deakin University’s Anne-Marie Hede from the faculty of business and law said she expected a mixed reaction, with the loyal Bali travellers sticking by the Indonesian island. “People may not want to support Bali, but if people still want to go, they will go,” Dr Hede said.



May 28, 2005


FAMILY and friends of Schapelle Corby have called on Indonesians to free the convicted student in the light of the aid Australia gave after the Boxing Day tsunami and the Australian lives lost in Nias.

Immediately after Corby’s verdict came down yesterday, family friend Glen Jeffers stood outside the court in Denpasar and made an impassioned plea to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, linking the case to the financial aid Australia gave the country.

“When Indonesia was struck by the tsunami, Australia gave aid,” Mr Jeffers said. “Nine Australians gave the ultimate, their lives, in a helicopter crash on the island helping Indonesians. “We’ll continue to fight until an innocent girl is set free to live and enjoy her life.”

Corby’s family reacted in anger and disbelief as its worst fears were played out in the Balinese courtroom, broadcast live into the houses of many Australians.

As the 20-year sentence was handed down, her family jumped to their feet, howling and screaming abuse at the judge. In chaotic scenes, Corby’s mother, Rosleigh Rose, yelled: “You’ve taken the word of a liar.”

Her sister Mercedes yelled from the public gallery that the judges had it wrong. As Corby’s mother screamed, camera crews leapt in through open windows of the court. But Corby herself remained one of the few to retain her cool.

“Relax, Mum, relax,” Corby said, motioning for them all to sit down. After she was returned to her cell, she told her lawyers: “No more crying; we will fight together.”

Outside the court, Mercedes lost composure and yelled in fury as she tried to read a prepared statement. “Schapelle is innocent; this verdict is unjust,” she screamed.

In an interview recorded in Bali, Ms Rose told the Nine Network she would continue to fight to clear her daughter’s name. “My daughter is coming home. Today is over but it’s not the bloody finish,” she said. “They didn’t use our witnesses at all.

“I said: ‘You bloody judges won’t have a bloody night’s sleep. You took the word of a bloody liar, the word of a customs officer.”‘

She was angry that justice had not been done and needed to speak her mind. “We had no way to prove her innocence,” she said. “They destroyed everything. As soon as she got off that plane, that was it, she was guilty. “Those judges will never have a night’s sleep ever again. And, my God, I hope they live a long, long life — they’re going to be very tired.

“I just wanted to jump that bloody railing and pick her up and run out with her.” Ms Rose rejected Prime Minister John Howard’s comments that Australians needed to accept the Indonesian court’s verdict. “That Howard better get off his arse now, I mean it, otherwise Bush will tell him to get off his arse and then he will have to get off his arse.”

Corby’s Gold Coast backer, Ron Bakir, added to the chorus of Australian voices claiming the 27-year-old had been unfairly jailed. “This is a massive injustice,” Mr Bakir said. “I’m speechless, I’m speechless, I really am. I really don’t know what more we could have done.”



May 28, 2005


FROM Prime Minister to punter, the 20-year prison sentence handed down to Schapelle Corby yesterday had the nation talking.

While the politicians took to the airwaves to urge temperance, listeners jammed talkback radio lines to say they would boycott Indonesian products and holiday destinations.

John Howard said he recognised that Australians would be upset by the decision, and that he personally felt sorry for Corby regardless of her guilt or innocence, but he warned it was for the judges, not the Australian public, to make that judgment.

“Now that the guilty verdict has been handed down by the Indonesian court and Ms Corby has been sentenced to a jail term of 20 years, there will be deep feeling in the Australian community,” Mr Howard said.

“I recognise that, I say at the outset, that guilty or innocent, I feel for this young woman. “If she is guilty, I feel for her, that a tragic mistake and tragic act has done so much damage to her young life. If she is innocent, my feelings are redoubled.

“It is not for me to make a judgment and not for my fellow Australians, however strongly they feel, to make a judgment.”

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer urged the public not to let its concern about the conviction spill over into a backlash against Indonesians.

“Indonesian staff should not be threatened, Indonesian government officials should not be abused or threatened,” Mr Downer said. “To do that type of thing is entirely counter-productive.”

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said his party had yesterday written to the Indonesian Government asking for a presidential pardon.

“We’ve concluded that it’s appropriate to register our support for an appeal for a presidential pardon for Schapelle Corby now,” Mr Rudd said. “I understand there is considerable emotion in the community over this verdict,” he said.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said he was stunned by the severity of the sentence. “Like most people, I’m disappointed with the verdict – stunned by it,” Mr Beattie said. “I think nearly every Queenslander will be shattered and disappointed by the decision.

“In many senses I guess I should not have been totally surprised, but I think most Australians today will be agonising with her and her family and clearly she is going to need all the support she can get.”



May 28, 2005


“There were two sides to every story,” Paul said. The storeman was on his lunch break from jury duty in the County Court, keeping one eye on the pub TV, where in another courtroom thousands of kilometres away Judge Linton Sirait read his interminable verdict in the Schapelle Corby case.

“Actually, there are three sides,” Paul said, sipping his cider. “There’s their side, there’s your side – and there’s the truth, somewhere in the middle.”

You might do a lot worse than have Paul on your jury. His seemed a voice of moderation in the rumour-fuelled, media-stoked, polarised, national obsession that has become Schapelle Inc.

Since her arrest in Bali in October, Corby’s plight has spawned something of a crusade. Documented by a true media circus, it has galvanised public opinion, strained relations with Indonesia, stirred racist sentiment and brought harsh scrutiny of her family and supporters.

Websites have sprung up, rewards offered, petitions organised and songs written. Everyone has an opinion – predominantly, and fiercely, in sympathy.

“If you spent just five minutes with Schapelle, you too would believe in her innocence,” argues her most prominent backer, Gold Coast businessman Ron Bakir. Some have barely needed that long.

One website summarises the Corby story simply and briefly: “A carefree girl next door who enjoyed fashion, music and surfing. Now wrongfully accused, incarcerated, liberty torn from her . . . forced to ponder the possibility of being executed over a sick criminal bundle up.”

A message posted on another site claims to speak for Australia: “We r all behind u Schapelle and we hope u return home.”

In fact, the nation’s anxiety over Corby had become “a xenophobic sort of mass hysteria”, Professor Tim Lindsey, director of the Asian law centre at Melbourne University, suggested on ABC radio yesterday. Corby had been turned into Lindy Chamberlain in reverse, he said.

But the professor might not have been giving the average Australian enough credit, at least according to a quick Age survey of city pubs and taxi ranks during yesterday’s live telecast of her trial verdict. There was interest, but little outrage.

At the Metropolitan in King Street, the single TV was on but the sound was turned down. At Pug Mahones in Hardware Street, the television was switched to a music video on which, in what was not an omen, the Beach Boys were pickin’ up good vibrations.

In home entertainment store JB Hi-Fi, browsers were watching banks of plasma screens tuned to the telecast, but the sound was off.

“No one’s asking for it to be turned up,” said a salesman. “I think that indicates the level of real interest.”

Leigh, a cabbie for the past 11 years, said Corby had been a talking point among his passengers. “They feel sick for the poor girl,” he said. “But I don’t encourage (discussions), because it makes me sick, too. Just a bit of grass.”

At the Turf Bar in Queen Street, a small crowd had gathered near the television as the verdict neared.

“I think it’s going to be sucking all of Australia in,” said Mitch Grant from Highett. “Her emotions have sucked us in. It’s easy for us to be biased. She seems just like the rest of us, a young girl who you can’t help think the best of. It just doesn’t seem to make sense.”

But, he said, the dominant emotion seemed to be intrigue.

Back at the Metropolitan, Katherine, of West Brunswick, was expecting bad news. Corby and her supporters had seemed optimistic, she said, and “I always have the attitude that if you’re that confident, something’s going to go wrong”.

It did. By the time the judge declared Corby guilty, a crowd had gathered around the screens at JB and the sound was turned up. The cynical salesman was proved wrong. And when Corby was given 20 years, one of his colleagues began to cry.





RUMOURS of Australian hydroponic marijuana being sold on the streets of Bali are rubbish, say Kuta street dope and drug dealers.

In what proved to be a simple assignment, I went out on the streets of Kuta, an island tourist mecca, after 11pm on Wednesday and I was approached numerous times and offered a full range of drugs, from marijuana to heroin.

Five of those dealers agreed to just talk to me.

All of them told me that they had never heard of special hydroponically grown cannabis with its trademark big heads being smuggled into Bali from Australia to sell to select foreigners at high prices.

This has been the claim made by some sections of the Australian media.

“That’s bull, man. If this type of weed was on the market then we’d know about it,” said one dealer who said his name was Sumarlin.

“People like our ganja because it’s cheap. It’s all part of the Bali trip cheap T-shirts, cheaper Bintang (local beer) and cheap dope. If people want a bigger hit, then they just buy more.”

Another street dealer said it would be very difficult to guarantee a regular supply of the so-called ‘super dope’ from Australia.

“It’s impractical because it would be too dangerous to ship in kilos of the stuff and you would need that on a regular run to make it worthwhile,” he said. “It’s no good having it for your clients for a week and then not seeing it again for months. That’s crazy man.” The dealer said marijuana was worth about $1000 a kilo in Bali.

All the dealers I spoke with said they had not heard of Schapelle Corby or her sister Mercedes. “We have talked amongst ourselves since Corby was arrested and we don’t know them,” said a dealer.

Although Ms Corby is not as well known in Bali as she is in Australia, it is surprising how many Balinese know about Schapelle and her plight.

“I know in my heart that Australian girl Corby is innocent,” said a taxi driver.

A second driver said he was embarrassed about the Indonesian legal system. “That bule (white woman) should not be in our prison or our courthouse, she should be on our beach enjoying it like other tourists.”

After suffering a tourism downturn in the wake of the Kuta bombing that killed 88 Australians in October 2002, business people are nervous about the impact the Corby trial could have.

One shopkeeper said he was afraid the verdict would affect tourist numbers from Australia. “Some Aussies tell me they will not come back if Corby gets a big sentence and they’ll tell their friends not to come to Bali,” he said.

A Kuta restaurateur said the case had been bad for Bali’s image.

“All the world think we are Third (World) people because of how Corby has been treated,” he said.

As the time ticks down to the verdict today, you hear the words ‘Schapelle Corby’ wherever Australians are gathered.



By NEWS.com.au readers

May 27, 2005

This is a selection of readers’ comments on the handling of Schapelle Corby’s case.


<> Finally, justice has been served. She got what she deserved. You smuggle drugs, you pay the price, it’s that simple. She was caught with the drugs in her possession, and those naive people still think she is innocent, GET REAL! Drug dealers don’t look like drug dealers these days…open your eyes

<> To those who have a myopic view and allege that the Indonesian legal system is wrong or the Australian Government could have done better… if the shoe was on the other foot, and Australia (or God forbid, the USA) was trying to “impose” itself on Indonesia and change their legal system, those same people would be saying to Australia or the USA to mind their own business blah blah blah

<> There is a chance that the drugs were planted. There has been proof of bag tampering. There is reasonable doubt. How can someone say categorically that is impossible that the drugs were planted? This could have happened to anyone. Guilty until proven innocent. How can you respect that? Respect the verdict? How? How can anyone feel safe travelling to a country that has such laws? This is a disgrace.

<> Two and a half years for the mastermind of the Bali bombings, Abu Bakar Bashir – 4.5 days per victim. 20 years for 4.1kg of marijuana? Where is the common sense in all of this?

<> Judge insisting she is guilty because she couldn’t prove who placed the drugs in her bag. If she wasn’t involved how could she prove who was. They failed to perform any forensic examination of the marijuana which might have proved who actually handled it. She was convicted before the trial started. That is the only way a court could get a conviction rate of 500 to 0…

<> The media has made a mockery of the Indonesian justice system. They’ve picked apart their faults and made a martyr of Schapelle. Innocent or not, she will be found guilty regardless. I just hope the Bali 9 get fairer trials with more real evidence rather than ‘she was found with it, who needs to finger print it!’.

<> Corby Guilty – a corrupt and apathetic Aussie police force strikes again – lets remember it’s the selective amnesia of Australia’s federal police that have allowed this to happen!

<> As a Canadian viewing this from the outside I understand media can be biased but the fact that a women is facing 20 years in jail for marijuana possession is absolutely ridiculous! I can only hope that the Australian government does everything in its and outside of its power to bring about justice. It is times like these when, i hate to say it, but I envy the strong headed American gov’t that would never allow such bulls*** to go on…

<> It appears to me you can kill hundreds of people and get a few months in goal but take some soft drug into the country and you get 20 years. Where is the justice in that? As far as I’m concerned you go Indonesia at your own risk.

<> I live in Singapore. Followed this case faithfully. Sorry to say that Indonesia has such strict rules for drug trafficking. But who do u trust ? Mr Corby or the Officials who say that she admitted to owning the drugs but later started denying it. I suppose she had been adviced to deny though she admitted when she was caught redhanded. I think Ms Corby is guilty. And if she is guilty, then she has shown no repent, tried emotional and media-tactics to win attention. I am glad such manipulative tactics have not influenced the justice system. It is indeed sad that the punishment is harsh but then rules are rules.

<> Australia and Australians should boycott Bali and all other Indonesian destinations as well in protest to the shameful treatment of an innocent woman, Schapelle Corby. Prime Minister Howard has shown he has no backbone otherwise he would have done more to bring Schapelle Corby home instead of allowing her to be subjected to a kangaroo court .Shame on you Prime Minister Howard for not doing more for Australian citizens wrongly arrested overseas…

<> We have only read, seen and believed the one sided view of the Australian media, how typical. Were there facts about the weight of the bags during check-in and the weight of the bags when being held up at Bali? Won’t this be crucial, was it reported? Maybe not.

<> I’m glad I enjoyed a holiday to Bali in 1997 because there is no way I’ll travel there again. It’s just not worth the risk.

<> I will never go to Indonesia ever again. All Australians have given everything to the Indonesians and this is what we get in return. Thanks Indonesia, the Balinese are the ones that will suffer. I just hope that Schapelle knows that the Australian public knows that she is innocent.

<> I will never travel to Indonesia. What happened to Schapelle could have happened to anyone of us. All Australians should boycott Indonesia as a form of protest.

<> Whether Shapelle is innocent or guilty, it was inevitable that Indonesia was going to find her guilty. Trying to interfere with the Indonesian justice system didn’t help. Blame cannot be put at the Australian Government. I personally would never travel to Indonesia now.

<> I think we should fly her home. She is innocent and 20 years for a crime that she didnt commit is very harsh. my heart goes out to her and her family, the real criminal is the justice system in indonesia, Lets get together australia and bring her home.

<> I remember the day when I had items stolen out of my luggage while flying overseas and thinking “If they can take things out of my luggage what can put in”. I travel to Indonesia for business a lot but now I make sure I only have carry on luggage. Your luggage is not safe!

<> I just watched the live verdict. That is an absolute disgrace! As for Indonesia, I will never support that country or it’s view ever again, as for travel I will never give them my time of day. To see that poor girl and her family, how they can call themselves humane I will never know. Shame on that judge and the Indonesian legal system

<> Can any body tell me why she deserves special treatment and why should she be given a free passage home as a prisoner exchange transfer? Because she says she is innocent? So what? The bali nine can say they are innocent as well. Are they going to get the same prisoner exchange system?? The Australian Government want to run its own country and let Indonesia run its own. If you do the crime be prepared to do the time.

<> Hopefully now that she has been given a fixed term sentence she will be able to serve it in Australia, close to her family and in more tolerable conditions – this would most likely not have been possible if she had been sentenced to life.

<> Great return serve Indonesia. We give you $1Billion dollars in aid and you lock one of ours up for 20 years under extremely shady circumstances. To paraphrase Reg Reagan “Indonesia, get stuffed”

<> Guilty as charged. A triumph of justice over media hysteria. My praise goes out to the Indonesian Legal system for not being influenced by the presumptuous Australian public.

<> Break off diplomatic relations. Send in the SAS to rescue Schapelle. Set up a Navy blockade. Teach these uncivilised people a lesson.

<> I am disgusted with the verdict. As I taxpayer I demand that monies being sent for aid be retracted. How dare the country send monies to these fools

<> Another media frenzy about something that seriously has no baring on anything in Australia. How about fixing up the Australian legal system before we worry about the actions of someone overseas.

<> I need to find out a list of all Indonesian products available in Australia to boycott them all. Could someone publish one please?

<> If John Howard had any guts, he’d withdraw our tsunami funding to Indonesia, withdraw any troops assisting in their own in-fighting and anything else where we have granted assistance. If the Bali Bomber gets a slap on the wrist for killing many aussies, and Corby goes down for pot, why should we help them?

<> After reading Howard’s comments this morning asking us to accept what ever sentence is handed down to Schapelle, I was disappointed and disgusted at the lack of help our government has offered.. do they expect us to sit back and watch someone suffer 20 years in a bali jail?

<> I think she is lucky to get only 20 years, I was expecting life. Anyway is she actually guilty? Probably yes, at the least she guilty of stupidity.

<> I think if a country can not look at all the evidence to make an inform decision then that country is not worth it for tourism or aid. I will certainly not be helping out a country that cannot conduct their legal system in a just and fair way

<> “Honest” John Howard asks us to respect the justice system of another country when we cannot trust or respect his own government’s judicial , immigration and detention systems. On the other hand – why shouldn’t he treat the Australian people as mugs – we put him back in.

<> Indonesia convict murderers, rapists and animal abusers for less than 5 years all the time. 20 years for some grass is utterly stupid. The amount of prosecution in this case is abhorrent. There was no fingerprinting allowed and other such basic investigative techniques. Corruption in southern asian countries is rife and why the rest of the world allows it to go on is also stupid. Even if she is guilty she shouldn’t get any more than a couple of years at most for some bloody dope…it is legal in Holland and other forward thinking countries.

<> The indonesians are very insensitive, they will be sorry. I will not be going to Bali again. The verdict is unacceptable. There is not enough evidence to lock her away.

<> If Beazley wants to win the next election he should do everything in his power to get Schapelle back to Australia. Stand with the majority and he can’t lose.

<> Jarrod, under a prisoner exchange treaty Schapelle can be brought back to Australia – but this does not mean she is eligible for early parole or any such niceties. She would remain subject to Indonesia’s laws even though she is in Australia. No easy wins on this one.

<> Who the hell would ever go to Indonesia and why are we tax payers giving them so much bloody aid money every year. What a load of #%&*! They are the most corrupt people in the world.

<> Next time Indonesia is victim to a natural disaster such as the boxing day tsunami, Australians will not be so open to providing aid or financial assistance. I once loved travelling to Bali. Never again unfortunately.

<> This is totally wrong. John Howard: Tear up that $1billion dollar cheque and Australians should boycott this nation.

<> I think the Indonesians have made a big mistake. I for one wont be choosing indonesia or any relating countries as a holiday destination in my lifetime. They have disgraced themselves.

<> What a farce… I call upon all Australians to boycott travelling to Bali and stop funding these Monkeys locking up and bombing young Aussies.

<> I think the defence did well, as she is not being shot dead. That to me in Indonesia is a success. Many before Schapelle have not enjoyed that outcome of similar cases.

<> This case brings an interesting incident to mind. My girlfriend’s cousin from California was detained by customs at Sydney Airport on New Years’ Eve after finding cannabis in her luggage. After being detained for several hours she was let off with a warning and allowed to enter the country. Apparently the incident was not recorded against her passport. Interesting times…

<> I’ll boycott Indonesia forever. Can I have my Tsunami donation back now? I’ll never help them again if they place innocent people behind bars. My friends know Schappelle and she may be a little stupid, but she knows nothing about the world of drugs really.

<> Finally, justice has been served. She got what she deserved. You smuggle drugs, you pay the price, it’s that simple. She was caught with the drugs in her possession, and those naive people still think she is innocent, GET REAL! Drug dealers don’t look like drug dealers these days…open your eyes

<> To those who have a myopic view and allege that the Indonesian legal system is wrong or the Australian Government could have done better… if the shoe was on the other foot, and Australia (or God forbid, the USA) was trying to “impose” itself on Indonesia and change their legal system, those same people would be saying to Australia or the USA to mind their own business.

<> The media has made a mockery of the Indonesian justice system. They’ve picked apart their faults and made a martyr of Schapelle. Innocent or not, she will be found guilty regardless. I just hope the Bali 9 get fairer trials with more real evidence rather than ‘she was found with it, who needs to finger print it!’.

<> Awful results – who wants to go to Bali now? I don’t!

<> The indonesians are monumental hypocrites and a total disgrace. Their streets are awash with heroin, infinitely more dangerous than marajuana and of course, what about their treatment of the Bali bomber? 2 strategies: 1)Pull all their funding, stop the scandalous financial aid we give them; and 2) Boycott Indonesia Hit them hard in the pockets – that should wipe the smiles off their smug faces. Of course, the pollies would not have the guts to implement Option 1, but we can value add to option 2.

<> Australia and Australians should boycott Bali and all other Indonesian destinations as well in protest to the shameful treatment of an innocent woman, Schapelle Corby. Prime Minister Howard has shown he has no backbone otherwise he would have done more to bring Schapelle Corby home instead of allowing her to be subjected to a kangaroo court .Shame on you Prime Minister Howard for not doing more for Australian citizens wrongly arrested overseas…

<> This is a sad day for Schappelle and all free people. Indonesia has proven again to be a country out of step with common decency and justice. I would encourage all Australians and free people in the world to boycott Indonesia and Indonesian products. I for one will never visit that country and will not purchase goods or services from that country. We might well ask, “Where is God in that country?” Look at the face of Schapelle and you will see God.. you will see the suffering face of Christ all over again…… We must continue to pray for Schapelle and to pressure our government to do all in its power to bring her home.

<> I was, unfortunately, expecting this outcome but the result is still shocking. It is a travesty of Justice! We can say goodbye to the Bali nine, Schapelle is innocent and it still didn’t help.

<> I believe Schapelle is innocent and my heart is breaking with the verdict. That could have been me. I have been to Bali 3 times. I will NEVER go there again. My only question is why she did not realise there was a difference in weight (of 4 kilos) in her boogie bag when she picked it up at Denpasar Airport?

<> Is it really any surprise she was found guilty? Justice has not been served! I personally will never travel through any part of Indonesia as the risk if not worth it. It is obvious that guarantee of a fair and just trial can’t be made when the judges are more interested in proving a point and saving face than actual evidence.

<> I think she will be found guilty, and I think the Australian government knows this fact. Thus if they rush through a prisoner-exchange with Indonesia, Corby can be brought here, appeal under the Australian judicial system and be released. That way Indonesia looks strong to it’s people and the world by not acquitting a ‘drug smuggler’, and Australia makes itself look like a hero for bringing her home. All politics.

<> Schapelle was shown unwarranted and unprecedented support due to the one sided view of the media. Frankly, we should be ashamed of ourselves. It’s gone way too far and it’s just silly.

<> I will never travel to Bali again! I think the judges and the legal system is pathetic!

<> Not sure – why would you smuggle drugs into Bali fro Aust where they are a fifth of the cost. She could have sold them here with less risk.

<> Innocent. If she is not sent home, I have decided to never travel to Indonesia again.

<> It’s very hard to believe that Schapelle Corby did not notice a 4.1 kilogram bag of drugs in a boogie board bag. Maybe she will have to pay the price for her stupidity.

<> My heart goes out to Schapelle Corby. However we need to look at the facts in the case, not the fact she is a pretty white girl when making our judgements. I wonder if we would see the same groundswell of popular support if the accused was a forty-five year old overweight male.

<> I don’t think that it is particularly relevant how well Schapelle’s case is being managed when you are dealing with a jurisdiction that always finds defendants guilty. Why have a court system, when the police are always right? Just send them straight to jail and save the torture for the accused. As for Mr Howard and Mr Downer – they are an absolute disgrace – what is our country coming to when the Australian public think that it is OK to continue to elect A-moral leadership in the country. Wake up Australia – you voted for these idiots.

<> Corby’s camp ill advised – far too many mistakes – used media to their detriment – jumped the gun on many occasions – tried to interfere with Indonesia’s legal system and from start to finish was a circus. If a harsh sentence is handed down – her corner will be partly to blame – message being “don’t mess with Indonesia’s legal system”. Would our courts tolerate being dictated to by a group of media user foreigners? I think not.

<> She is innocent and should be freed. Her behavior at the time of arrest was that of someone innocent or completely stupid and she is not stupid. I feel they will sentence her to life and that is NOT ACCEPTABLE! Time for all Australians to boycott Indonesia.

<> I think the case has been handled by her defence team in an extremely poor manner. Why didn’t her defence team accept help from government appointed criminal experts, reputedly 2 of the best criminal lawyers in the country? I find this hard to comprehend given the amount of short commings that have prevailed in her defence.

<> I think her defence has done a good job considering the circumstances. I am pretty sure she will be found guilty even though she is probably innocent. The fact that she is Australian and a women work against her and with all the media attention the judges will make an example of an innocent girl. I will certainly never visit Indonesia after witnessing the events over the last few months and I would encourage other Australians to do the same. Good Luck Schapelle and my heart goes out to you and your family.

<> Everything in this trial that should have assured a just and fair decision has been prejudiced by the actions, or inactions, of the Indonesian Police and Customs authorities. As a long time and frequent visitor to Bali, I would now never return. Simply because someone could easily place something illegal in my own baggage, without my knowledge, and I would receive exactly the same mis-trial as Miss Corby has endured. There is no evidence against her other than she collected her bag off the carousel and entered Customs, hoping to enjoy a holiday in Bali. By that stage, the bag contained an illegal item.

<> I’m not a Corby supporter, though I am empathetic towards her plight. A lot of people have called me un-australian because of my stance .. but what about other Australians who are detained o/s? why not support them as well? Keep building the band wagon ..

<> The media has been disagraceful in the fact they only publish what they want people to know. Her defence has made a big mistake in criticising the security at the airport and accusations reference bribery allegations towards the legal system in Indonesia. Whether she is guilty or not everyone has an opinion and each opinion should be respected. Personally I believe there is substance for a guilty verdict.

<> I think her defence team has coped tolerably well. I think the Bali police have handled the case disgustingly, having not fingerprinted the bags and handled them with bare hands, contaminating evidence. I think she has been exposed to far too much publicity, although I think her supporters have been very supportive of her and very defensive of her rights. I believe she is innocent.

<> The media have reported very little of the trial and the evidence presented, so it’s almost impossible to get a fair picture of what really happened. All the media have done is present her as a victim – they haven’t told us anything of the prosecution’s case at all. This is fairly typical of the media in this country.

<> Schapelle is Innocent. If she is found guilty, it will be a miscarriage of justice. They have shown contempt for the Australian public by only gaoling the Bali Bombers for two years, so why are we surprised that Miss Corby is being treated in this way?

<> Her defence team has done the best as they possibly could with the evidence at hand or lack there of. However, I believe some of her supporters are doing Schapelle the greatest injustice by not respecting Indonesian law. We can’t impose our views of justice on others, if we do we really are becoming a US state.

<> I think the way Indonesia has handled this case is atrocious. The fact is, guilty or not, there is reasonable doubt. In any mature legal system, that means you cannot convict. But in Indonesia’s primitive system, it seems you are guilty no matter what.

<> Weigh up all the facts; the testimony of the Indonesian customs officials, the likelihood that the bag would have been planted by someone else in her luggage and her family history would all suggest that she is guilty. Being a pretty white girl doesn’t necessarily equate to innocence.

<> I hope that once the verdict is read and in the very probably case (yet unwarranted) she is found guilty, I hope that the media does not lose interest leaving Corby to become yet another distant memory in all our hearts – all the while we let an innocent person die in jail. Just remember this could have happened to ANYONE!

<> Everyday I think of and cry for Schapelle I don’t think she has any hope of getting off of this charge it’s already been said that the 3 judges have never acquitted anyone before and with all this media attention I doubt they are going to start now. I will never go to Bali if she is found guilty. I will encourage all of those around me to do the same.

<> I think it has been handled poorly by the most involved. We all have our opinions which vary from day to day. The only person who knows the absolute truth is Schapelle (and maybe the baggage handler who did/didn’t put the drugs in her BB bag)

<> it’s hard to tell how well the defence has handled it without being present but i do agree with comments that they have attempted to use the media to influence the trial, however i also think they are up against a biased system and needed to do anything they could.

<> The defence team seem to have done the best they could in the context of a slack Australian government and a harsh an inflexible indonesian legal system, where the judge takes pride in his “no acquittal” record. It’s outrageous he makes any public comment while the trial is in progress.



By NEWS.com.au readers

May 27, 2005


<> Why is there so much commotion? who actually knows that she is innocent? only she knows and will ever know, besides the people that gave her the drugs. Plenty of other Aussies around the world in same predicaments that no one cares about. if u wish to test a system, do so at your own peril.

<> I think the overattention and hype by media and Australians are big contributory factors in Corby’s unfortunate saga. How can everybody be so judgmental and sure of her innocence. Even if she was all this hype was really detrimental to her case. Anyway I wish her best of luck and pray that her higher appeal gets successful and she is released or transferred to Australia along with all other Australians rotting in Indonesian jails.

<> There is no way can she be seen as guilty beyond reasonable doubt. For John Howard to say we should just accept the decision is plain stupid. Would we just accept the decision if it was Taliban and an Islamic court? Of course not. I am sure he would not be so ‘high handed’ if it was his daughter. Why are they prepared to pay for QC’s now? Because they know she is innocent.

<> No one here can fairly judge either Corby or the Indonesian justice system – none of us know all the facts, only what is portrayed in the media. The Indonesian court considered the facts under the Indonesian legal system, and found Corby guilty. Based on what I saw in the media reports, none of Corby’s arguments could dispute the facts, nor did she present any hard evidence in defense. Australia should accept the legal decision of the court as correct and final – as we would expect Indonesia to do if the situation was reversed.

<> What is the use of trying to defend yourself in Indonesia, the judges do not listen to any defence. Boycott Bali and Indonesia and pressure our government to withdraw aid and free Schapelle Corby. This is the beginning of the end for Bali.

<> My heart goes out to Schapelle. I truly believe she was set up. I will never travel to Indonesia and hopefully none of my family will either.

<> For those of you who dont know Bali Law, Every August of Every year, The Prime minister is allowed to give pardon to half a dozen prisoners. You people must be crazy if you think Ms Corby is going to remain in prison for 20 years. Its all about politics. If they had let her off the charges, Politically it would have looked like Bali is bowing down to the Australian Government. The indonesians owe this to the Australians and they know it. but at the same time had to prove to the world that smuggling drugs into bali is not something the indonesian goverments takes lightly.

<> Guilty or not , no other person has had such positive publicity. I will not ever go to Bali and will boycott travel to the whole region for my entire life as I do not want to risk being in such a situation. A travesty of justice if she is innocent. Remember it was 15 years in jail in the 70’s for possession the smallest quantity in Queensland.

<> In a civilized country the law dictates that you are guilty if there is no ‘shadow of a doubt about your guilt’. In Schapelle’s case, there is a ‘shadow of doubt’. I can only surmise that this implies Indonesia is what I suspected, uncivilized!!

<> I cried openly for the Tsunami victims, I cried openly for the earthquake victims, and sent assistance. I cried openly today at the lack of a civilised justice system in Indonesia. I would not risk my life travelling there again.

<> Please stop blaming the Indonesian justice system because of the Corby’s case. We should know that when people go abroad, they are subjected to the justice system of the countries they visit. I totally agree that twenty years of jail is quite harsh, but that’s the other country’s rule. We all can’t sure if Corby is innocent or not. But, according to the Indonesian officials, she had admitted to owning the drugs at the airport but later started denying it. Why we all just believe Corby’s defending team? How about if the Indonesian officials had told the truth? Don’t you think you could not realize your boogie board bag was much heavier if 4.1 kg of marijuana had been planted into it? Don’t you believe a stranger would come to you and totally financially support you just because he believed you were innocent (bear in mind that he had financial difficulties)? Hey, a drug dealer will never admit he or she is a drug dealer. DO THINK ABOUT THE VICTIMS OF DRUGS! Do you stand aside just because a drug dealer is young and beautiful . If so, shame on you!!

<> never will i travel to Bali, i’m cancelling a trip as we speak, it doesn’t matter if she’s guilty or innocent, the punishment does NOT fit the crime, and if she’s innocent, she will suffer this forever my heart breaks for her and her family.

<> Congratulations on two parts. One for Western media outlets who, by applying such strong pressure on the court, helped cause the judges to dig their heels and lead to a more likely outcome of being found guilty before the trial had even finished. And two, for Downer offering QCs free of charge to help Schapelle after the horse has bolted.

<> why are we even putting people in prison for possessing a plant that grows naturally on our planet? It’s kind of like saying god made a mistake, don’t you think?

<> Unfortunately, this is going to affect the Balinese people as numerous Australians will be hesistant to visit Bali. I know I would be loathe to go there as it appears guilt is presumed and defences ignored. Given the other circumstances where people have found drugs in their luggage, it’s totally plausible the same may have happened in Schapelle’s case. I think Australia should find a way to bring her home, disregard the Indonesian ruling and conduct their own trial.

<> It was preposterous! I think Indonesia is trying to make a bloody statement at the expense of one innocent person. There is bias obviously. A man who killed hundreds of Australian got a very lenient sentence, whereas someone who is not their own got a bloody 20 years! I think Australia’s taxpayers should rethink and reconsider sending aid to Indonesia. Indonesia is hyprocrite. Drugs are everywhere on the streets!

<> Stick to the facts people! I am yet to hear/see anyone say that they have read the full transcript of the court proceedings and confirm or refute the judgement made. please don’t base your opinions on the limited information the media provide. otherwise you are just buying into the hysteria to create ratings. Lets not demand justice until we have demanded the facts first! I Challenge a media organisation on behalf of the Australian people to find these facts and publish them un-edited.

<> How can anyone here say that this is justice. It is the biggest miscarriage of justice of all… kill hundreds of Australians and get 2.5 years, but instead we watch a case with too much reasonable doubt (remember, the innocent until proven guilty adage) and people here are unsympathetic to a 27 year old getting 20 years for a crime she has not committed. You should be ashamed of yourselves…

<> Will all the Schapelle Corby supporters please stop saying “all Australia wants…” to support their please for her release? All THIS Australian wants is for the justice system of a sovereign country to be respected! In Indonesia the presumption is guilt and the onus on the accused to prove innocence (as it is in several countries around the world). I wasn’t there, but nothing reported in the media as having been presented as EVIDENCE has done anything to PROVE her innocence. There is some vague and circumstantial claims (not EVIDENCE) that in Australia MAY establish reasonable doubt. That is all.

<> Why does not one care about those young kids that are going through the same ordeal?

<> Imagine yourself in her position. How would you prove that you are innocent when you are presumed guilty? Honest people don’t go about their lives making sure they have alibi just in case for every occasion! Presumption of guilt is just plain wrong – a method used by corrupt totalitarian governments to enforce their kind of “law”.

<> I think that all Australians should rethink their view on the case, just because she is a beautiful young Australian girl does not mean she is an angel. If we had a case in Australia where an international had 10kg of any drug in their bags and their defense was they do not know how it got there then we would all laugh and accuse them of drug smuggling. I think she is GUILTY. Give her life!

<> If Schapelle is Innocent then my heart is with her and her family, but for all you pathetic People who say unjust comments like “Lets Boycott Bali” and “Stop Funding Monkeys”. Shame on you and your insignificent Lives.

<> I firmly believe Schapelle is innocent, why would anyone smuggle marijuana into Indonesia when you can buy it so cheaply on the streets there? The Prosecution could not establish a motive, meaning there was surely some reasonable doubt. God be with you Schapelle, don’t give up!

<> As hard as it is to accept the verdict, Australians should not bring in what we have done for Indonesia as a defence for the case. It is unfortunate what has happened, but deal with it, let the appeals take place and move on.

<> Respect the law of other countries guys, and please don’t allow a CONVICTED drug smuggler to come home to serve out her sentence in the relative comfort of home. You do the crime, you do the time and in the country you did the offence.

<> The Indonesian people are nice people it is their law that is not so nice. Schapelle would never have been convicted in Australia on the evidence presented. The point that needs to be looked at now, failing appeals etc, is that if we are to have a prisoner exchange it should be similar to I think what France’s extradition treaty is with Indonesia and that is when the prisoner is returned home they are re tried on the evidence and if convicted sentenced to what they would receive under French law. To have Schapelle come home and have to serve twenty years is laughable – a lot of people in this country would get a fine or 12 months for that amount of marihuana- 20 years? Downer and the Government need to look at this a lot closer than I believe is being done at the present time.

<> Lets get over the emotion and focus on the fact that many seem to be unable to believe – Schappelle received a fair trial and was found guilty. Many of the comments and disbelief are starting to border on racism – if an Indonesian was caught in similar circumstances coming into Australia, many of the people defending Schapelle would be calling for a life sentence!

<> After watching the live verdict, which I found to be very upsetting, she didn’t have a hope of getting off with a lighter sentence, the justice system seems to have got it all wrong, why was the bag not fingerprinted? if this was not done over here there would be no case. I was also very upset to hear the cheers that came from their people, absolutely disgusting, I for one will not be travelling over there again, if we can’t trust our bags not to be interfered here what are our chances of being another innocent victim. From: Katherine

<> A fair and just verdict. Already Corby has received more attention, aid and assistance than any other. I commend the Indonesian government for having such steadfast laws. Lets now put our energy and resources in to assisting someone being held unjustly such as Douglas Wood.

<> This is quite frightening. A lot of Australians are becoming so racist against the Indonesians and I plead with you to not go down that path. Just because the Judge has an opinion about ONE Australian, does NOT mean we should hold a grudge against the entire country, its both immature and extremely dangerous. I personally love Indonesian people, and the country itself. However, I dislike their justice system immensely, and I am now very frightened of it. Il do whatever is in my power to help Schapelle, even though she is guilty – she doesnt deserve this sentence. So I urge my fellow Australians to not fall into the trap of racism, and focus on helping Schapelle, not insulting an entire country of individuals who have nothing to do with this case and are just as normal and nice as we can be.

<> I’m from the USA, not familiar with the Australian justice system but I’m sure it’s similar to ours. This case seems like a mockery of justice and I will never visit Indonesia. It is too bad that the international aid cannot be easily withdrawn, I personally would not want to support such a regime.

<> Ken, obviously you haven’t been paying much attention to Schapelle’s case and the so called Bali nine. One huge difference is they were caught with the drugs strapped to their bodies and not in their boogy board bag.

<> By new laws created since sept 11 you are not allowed to place locks on your bags when traveling anywhere in the world so why should she be labeled stupid by so many of you people out there read up on the law and then you can make judgment not even a lawyer and I know the laws. Come on Johnny do something I am sorry this is a waste of a true Aussie.

<> Is she actually guilty? Only Shapelle knows the answer to that question. The case has been smothered by the media, resulting in the majority of Australia convinced she is innocent. Maybe we shouldn’t be so presumptions?

<> As wrong as it is, this verdict, whether it is right or wrong will cost Indonesia millions if not billions of dollars over the next 10 years. I for one will never travel there. Not because of this case alone but because if your not set up and convicted of drug smuggling by the most corrupt legal system in the world, you might get killed by government assisted terrorists or even natural disasters. Stay home Aussies, put your money into Australia, the best and safest country in the world.

<> I am in total shock at the verdict. That poor girl has had her life taken away when there was no evidence to support the claim that the drugs were hers. The applause in the court room has left a very bitter taste in my mouth and will make me think twice before supporting there country!

<> I understand that Indonesian government wants to punish someone for bringing drugs into their country, but I believe they are punishing a wrong person. It is their job to find out the truth and obviously they are not doing a good job. Schapelle should not be suffering from their incompetence.

<> All this arguing about whether she is innocent or guilty is masking the reality of her conditions. No one should be locked away under those squalid conditions for a bag of grass. Unbelievable hypocrisy.

<> Perhaps some people need to take a chill pill and ask themselves, was it chance her bag was searched or was there another reason she was picked out?

<> I watched the live verdict and found myself emotionally becoming a part of it. I feel for Schapelle, and don’t think she deserves such a sentence; guilty or not guilty. If she is innocent, I hope that whoever the true culprit is, is feeling enormous guilt for taking a way 20 years of another person’s life.

<> As unsavoury as this verdict is, we have no choice but to accept it. All this knee jerk shouts to withdraw out tsunami aid achieves nothing. A judge can only adjudicate on evidence presented. Unfortunately, Indonesian law (as I understand it) needs some hard evidence that the drugs were not Corby’s. A lot of circumstantial heresay was presented but nothing else. However the battle is not over and I believe, 12 months from now, Schappelle’s case will probably alter Indonesian law. The validity of circumstantial evidence will be tested in the Supreme court as Corby’s lawyers argue her innocence on the grounds that tampering could have taken place and that the prosecution cannot guarantee 100% the that drugs are in fact hers and put there by her. The Indonesia people have done no wrong.

<> Do I think Schapelle Corby or somebody traveling with her owned the drugs? Yes I do. The penalty however is absolutely ludicrous! And how dare the Indonesians cheer at the verdict when nine Australians recently lost their lives whilst trying to help their people!!

<> Guilty as charged, how can all these people claim that she is innocent, do they know her, were they with her when she got caught or are they just reading the papers who are trying to make money?? Wake up, if it was a young male would we jumping up and down like this??

<> We have to put this whole case into perspective. The majority of us believe she is innocent yet what are we basing this on? Probably only gut feeling. The defence was based on plenty of hearsay and circumstantial evidence. The notion of dodgy bag handlers at the airport does not seem like a very strong case. The important thing is that we don’t label Indonesia and importantly Bali because of it. The Balinese people do not deserve to suffer due to what many believe as the only verdict that could have come from this case.

<> I am Canadian and I have been following this case from the beginning. Sadly, the verdict does not surprise me. If I lived in Australia, I would do all that I could to discourage anyone from travelling to any part of Indonesia…period. I will never travel without my luggage being with me at all times. My days of checked baggage are over. Please remember Shapelle and all other prisoners in your prayers.

<> Guilty maybe. BUT 20 years is pathetic for such a crime. That is my only concern.

<> I only have one question for our PM, would he accept the verdict if it was his daughter?

<> If John Howard had any guts, he’d withdraw our tsunami funding to Indonesia, withdraw any troops assisting in their own in-fighting and anything else where we have granted assistance. If the Bali Bomber gets a slap on the wrist for killing many Aussies, and Corby goes down for pot, why should we help them?

<> I think she is lucky to get only 20 years, I was expecting life. Anyway is she actually guilty? Probably yes, at the least she guilty of stupidity. I’m pretty sure when picking up her boogy board bag, it would be very easy to tell that there was 4.1 kg of marijuana in it and not a boogy board, if you think your bag is tampered with, just walk away. Don’t try and sneak it through customs. Secondly I think the one-sided view of the majority of Australians is appalling. So many people think she’s innocent because white and pretty. If she were Asian etc. then she would have no where near as much support, from the public or the media.

<> I think if a country can not look at all the evidence to make an inform decision then that country is not worth it for tourism or aid. I will certainly not be helping out a country that cannot conduct their legal system in a just and fair way

<> “honest” John Howard asks us to respect the justice system of another country when we cannot trust or respect his own government’s judicial , immigration and detention systems. On the other hand – why should’nt he treat the Australian people as mugs – we put him back in.

<> If Beazley wants to win the next election he should do everything in his power to get Scapelle back to Australia. Stand with the majority and he can’t lose.

<> Jarrod, under a prisoner exchange treaty Schapelle can be brought back to Australia – but this does not mean she is eligible for early parole or any such niceties. She would remain subject to Indonesia’s laws even though she is in Australia. No easy wins on this one.

<> I think the defence did well, as she is not being shot dead. That to me in Indonesia is a success. Many before Schapelle have not enjoyed that outcome of similar cases.

<> This case brings an interesting incident to mind. My girlfriend’s cousin from California was detained by customs at Sydney Airport on New Years’ Eve after finding cannabis in her luggage. After being detained for several hours she was let off with a warning and allowed to enter the country. Apparently the incident was not recorded against her passport. Interesting times…


Corby verdict the inevitable

May 28, 2005


There will be a national outpouring of compassion for Schappelle Corby following her conviction and lengthy jail sentence in Bali, as there must be for any Australian in such horrible circumstances. While the public’s sympathy is understandable, it is on the facts that the court has had to make its judgement. The legal process in Bali was unfamiliar and may have appeared even chaotic, given the free media access to the courtroom. However, that does not mean the Chief Justice, Linton Sirait, presides over a kangaroo court without proper legal process.

Yet long before the sentence was handed down many concerned Australians had elevated Corby to martyr status. But a martyr to what cause? There are 155 Australians in foreign jails on drugs charges, two facing the death penalty. However, their stories of personal tragedy, stupidity and brazen greed fail to move us, while Corby touches strangers: “If eyes are the windows to the soul, I see a soft kindness shining through,” wrote one supporter. Others responded less benignly, turning instead on Indonesia.

Corby is an attractive and well-presented young woman, and patently distressed. She does not fit the stereotype of a drug mule. That may go some way towards explaining the torrent of public sympathy, but it was always immaterial to her innocence or guilt. There was never any argument that the marijuana was found in her luggage. The onus was always on her to provide a credible explanation of how it got there if she was to be acquitted.

The verdict will not, however, alter the public’s overwhelming belief in Corby’s innocence. Such a response reveals much about Australia, not all of it positive. Many Australians seem to instinctively mistrust Indonesia’s ability to try one of our own. This contradicts decades of political rhetoric embracing Asia and rejecting the legacy of the White Australia Policy. It also stands in contrast to our confidence in the processes of the same court when it handed down death sentences to the Bali bombers, even though Australia opposes the death penalty. It is utterly dismaying that some of Corby’s supporters resorted to blatantly racist slurs, discrediting the verdict in advance by demeaning the judges on racial grounds and, in some case, vilifying all Indonesians.

An immediate appeal is expected, and Indonesia is co-operating fully on a prisoner exchange treaty which is likely to bring Corby home. Such treaties go a long way to easing tensions because Australians are spared imprisonment below standards accepted by the community. A special “one-off” Corby deal, however, would be inappropriate. All Australians must be treated equally. This includes the two young Australians on death row in Vietnam and Singapore.



May 27, 2005


Australians’ support for a high-profile defendant is based on damaging double standards, writes Tim Lindsey.

WHAT would otherwise be a relatively unremarkable drugs trial in a foreign country has now become the major national story in Australia. The Australian defendant has rapidly become a martyr figure. Popular reaction to the trial – supporting Schapelle Corby and demonising Indonesia, for the most part – has become so extreme that it is now a national political issue.

This public pressure has pushed the Federal Government into unprecedented intervention on behalf of an Australian overseas. The Government has written a letter supporting Corby’s defence, sent a string of ministers to Jakarta, and has begun negotiations for a prisoner exchange treaty – even seeking a one-off exchange agreement for Corby before she has even been convicted of anything.

This is extraordinary, given that government responses to Australians in legal trouble overseas are generally limited. Consular representatives are usually careful not to be seen to be intervening in the judicial system of a foreign country and often will not make representations until after a sentence is imposed.

The Government consistently says it is not doing anything unusual in Corby’s case but that is clearly not the case. The support she has received appears far in excess of what has been provided in the past to other citizens facing drugs charges and the death penalty, including ethnic Asian Australians arrested in Vietnam.

The Government response reflects the popular hysteria in Australia asserting Corby’s innocence and condemning Indonesia: she is obviously innocent and the Indonesian system is obviously pathetic; their judicial system stinks; I will never travel to Bali again. The sense of aggressive certainty in these assertions is disturbing, for several reasons.

First, it is based on a conviction of Corby’s innocence that leaves no room for a judicial proceeding that will examine the evidence and conceivably come up with a different view. Instead, it assumes the system must be at fault, and so Indonesia’s very different and emergent civil law judiciary has been grossly misrepresented and demonised.

Second, the popular pro-Corby position is so uncompromising and emotive that it portrays any alternative view as the product of malice or stupidity. The wave of vituperative abuse that engulfed Derryn Hinch when he said publicly that he thought Corby was guilty is a good example of this, as are the abusive emails I have received since I started suggesting publicly that the evidentiary basis of Corby’s defence was weak.

What Australia is seeing here is a sort of counter-version of what happened to Lindy Chamberlain: a popular emotional prejudgement as to a person’s guilt or innocence that creates a political storm and leaves little room for the law to take its course, even if distorted by political pressure. In the process, rationality begins to suffer; so does policy and, in this case, our image in the region.

The death penalty – rejected in Australia decades ago – is a good example of this. It is proper for Australia to oppose the death penalty overseas, and in particular when it is imposed on Australian citizens, but we now have a credibility problem in doing so in Indonesia.

When Bali bombers Amrozi, Muhklas and Imam Samudra were sentenced to death by the same court that is trying Corby, this was widely celebrated here, with some Australians offering to pull the trigger or burn them alive, and our Government indicating that execution was appropriate. In light of this, how can our Government now claim that death is a barbaric punishment, as popular opinion has it, if it is imposed on Corby or, as is more likely, the Bali nine?

Is it that Australia has changed its policy so that death is now acceptable for some crimes and not for others? The double standard on the death penalty feeds South-East Asian anxieties about neo-colonial, arrogant and racist attitudes in Australia and perceptions that we are the insular and xenophobic white tribe of Asia.

There is a lesson to be learnt from this: what happens in Indonesia directly affects Australians. Whether it is war, terrorism, trials or tsunamis, Australians will always be part of what happens to our near north.

It is time we focused more on building links, on repairing the catastrophic decline in Indonesian studies and language skills in Australia and engaging, rather than demonising and shunning, a neighbour, just because it has an Australian on trial.

Tim Lindsey is professor of Asian law, director of the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne. Additional research by Piers Gillespie, a research assistant.




Mark Dodd

May 28, 2005

ACROSS Southeast Asia, 46 Australians are languishing in prison cells on drug-trafficking charges, with little prospect of attracting the same support as Schapelle Corby.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that three Australians were on death row after being convicted of narcotics offences in Asia.

Vietnam, which has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws, last year sentenced an Australian man to death by firing squad for heroin trafficking.

Tran Van Thanh, 39, was sentenced by a Ho Chi Minh City court last year after being convicted of attempting to traffic 700g of heroin from Vietnam to Australia.

His two accomplices, both Australians of Vietnamese descent, Pham Dai Nhon and Le Thi Loan, received 16- and 20-year jail terms respectively.

Last August, 33-year-old Australian Tran Thi Hong Loan was found guilty of trafficking 881g of heroin hidden in a hairspray bottle. She was detained at Ho Chi Minh International Airport while preparing to board a flight to Sydney.

Her original death sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.

Another Australian, Nguyen Van Chinh, 45, faces death by firing squad in Vietnam.

She was sentenced in a one-day trial in Ho Chi Minh City after spending more than two years in jail following her 2002 arrest for smuggling 1050g of heroin.

In Singapore, 24-year-old Vietnamese-Australian, Nguyen Tuong Van of Melbourne sits in death row after his conviction for smuggling 400g of heroin on his way home from Cambodia. Narcotics trafficking in Singapore usually means a mandatory sentence of death by hanging.

While three Australians are facing sentencing for drug smuggling in Cambodia’s notoriously corrupt courts, 16-year-old Sydney teenager Gordon Vuong is languishing in a Phnom Penh jail for minors after his controversial conviction for trying to smuggle 2kg of heroin out of the country.

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