The Australia’s ‘Ganja Queen’ Schapelle Corby returned to her country this year after spending 13 years imprisoned in Indonesia. Her case was followed in detail by the media and tightened relations between the two countries.
But was she guilty or a victim of a drug trafficking network?
Beginning: Who is Schapelle Corby?
The Australia’s ‘Ganja Queen’ Schapelle Corby not only lost years of her freedom, much of her youth but also feared, to sanity.
Corby, 39, returned to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia few months ago, spent nine years in prison and three others on parole in Indonesia.
The woman was arrested and convicted after being caught on October 8, 2004 carrying 4.2 kilograms of marijuana in her luggage at Denpasar airport in Bali.
This beauty school student who worked in her parents’ fast food store was sentenced to 20 years in Kerobokan Prison in Bali.
Her trial was televised live in her native Australia.
The Australians watched as Corby beat her forehead repeatedly with the palm of her hand wrapped in tears at the local court in Denpasar, while her followers burst into rage.
An Australian-based Indonesian law expert says that the price Corby paid for the crime of which she was found guilty may have been much higher.
The arrest of Corby caused a serious conflict in the already tense history of the relations between Australia and Indonesia.
Episode 2: Her Crime
Many Australians were outraged at the image of a young woman with big green eyes and tanned Queensland citizen locked up in a foreign jail for carrying “a little drug.”
But Tim Lindsey, an expert on Asian law at the University of Melbourne School of Law, says Corby’s offense is one of the most serious in Indonesian law.
“In Indonesia, there is no distinction between marijuana, heroin and cocaine, all of which are in category 1, which includes the worst drugs,” he says.
“At home, the death sentence is available for dozens of crimes, but usually only applies to three: premeditated killings, terrorism and drug offenses.”
“Like other Southeast Asian countries, drug trafficking in Indonesia is considered a form of mass murder ” he adds.
Corby was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Indonesia after 4 kg of marijuana was found in her luggage.
In 2015, two other Australian citizens were executed after being convicted of drug trafficking.
Episode 3: How did the drug found on so called Australia’s ‘Ganja Queen’ Schapelle Corby luggage
Schapelle’s sister Mercedes Corby and her mother, Rosleigh Rose, held numerous press conferences in Bali proclaiming the girl’s innocence, demanding that the Australian government request her extradition and holding theories on how the drug reached its suitcase.
One of them was that a baggage clerk in Brisbane placed the drug in Corby’s bag with the intention of being intercepted in Sydney, before the flight to Denpasar.
But an ex-member of Corby’s defense, Robin Tampoe, later testified that he himself had invented that hypothesis.
Philip Ruddock, who was Australia’s attorney general when Corby was arrested, told Australian Broadcasting Corp this week that “it was never proven that the drug was planted.”
Despite numerous protests in Corby’s favor, she spent 13 years in prison in Indonesia
Episode 4: Tense relationships
In Australia, anti-Indonesian sentiment soared.
At the time of the trial, Sydney radio presenter Malcolm T. Elliott called the judges in the Corby case and then-Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as “monkeys.”
Some questioned why Australia gave Indonesia a $ 750 million aid package following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster if they then treated an innocent Australian girl.
Even actor Russell Crowe commented in April 2005: “When there is so much doubt, how can we as a country stand and let an Australian girl rot in a foreign prison?”
That same month, Indonesia’s consulate general in Perth, Australia, received an envelope containing two bullets and a letter stating, “If Schapelle Corby is not released immediately, everyone will receive one of these bullets in the brain.”
Protests for and against Corby were felt in both countries.
The case of Australia’s ‘Ganja Queen’ Schapelle Corby complicated relations between Australia and Indonesia.
Episode 5: The Circus
According to Tim Lindsey, this unprecedented uproar did not do Corby any favors.
“A circus was formed around the case, with crowds of people protesting, people shouting at judges, and some people giving press conferences in which judges and the system were brutally attacked.”
“She was always likely to be convicted,” says Lindsey.
The behavior of Corby and his followers was also an important subject.
“She never admitted her guilt. She never seemed regretful in court and behaved in a sometimes offensive way,” Lindsey describes.
This counts a lot in the Indonesian system before reaching the verdict, he says.
Many Australians were angry with Corby’s 20-year sentence, comparing it with much lighter sentences given to some of those involved in the Bali bombings in 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
But for Professor Lindsey, despite questions from Indonesia’s legal system, Corby was treated fairly.
“The judges were provoked enough that they could have given her a very severe sentence,” he speculates.
“She had the maximum prison sentence. It is not easy, but it could have been worse,” he says.
Episode 6: Appeals and more scandal
Corby’s time in prison affected his mental health.
A series of appeals between July 2005 and March 2008 finally failed to improve Corby’s situation.
The sentence was cut five years in October 2005, but the defense and prosecution appealed and the sentence of 20 years was reinstated.
In August 2006, Corby’s defense filed a new appeal saying that the closed-circuit images of Sydney Airport the day she traveled to Bali would cleanse her of charges. But the document was not submitted within the term granted.
If Corby’s circus was not enough, other secondary attractions damaged her credibility.
In 2005, prior to her sentencing, Queensland businessman Ron Bakir announced that he would finance Corby’s defense and that he had hired a law firm to investigate the origin of Ganja on the Corby exchange.
Soon, the man reported that a prosecutor had requested a bribe to reduce the sentence that lawyers would ask for the girl.
Later, most of Corby’s defense team was dismissed in dramatic and mediatic fashion.
Her step brother James Kisina, who was with her when she was arrested, was known to have a criminal record, while Mercedes Corby, the sister, won a case of defamation after a television channel posted an interview with a friend of the family.
It was also publicly denounced that Corby’s father, Michael, had been involved in drug trafficking. The man died of bowel cancer in 2008. That year, Corby was hospitalized twice with a diagnosis of depression.
Schapelle Corby also received the nickname “Queen of the marijuana” (Ganja Queen) after a documentary released in 2007 with that same name will present her in history. Some also call her Australia’s ‘Ganja Queen’ Schapelle Corby.
The End: Freedom
The media from both Australia and Indonesia closely followed Corby’s life in recent years.
In 2010, Corby asked President Yudhoyono for clemency and released for humanitarian reasons because of her mental health.
Her sentence was cut five years and Yudhoyono faced great public criticism and the demand that he reverse his decision.
Corby was released on parole in February 2014, nine years and four months after her arrest, and on May 28 she returned to her native Brisbane, Australia.
“When she was arrested 13 years ago, she became a national obsession and continues today,” says BBC correspondent Phil Mercer in Sydney.
“Australia is still divided.Is it guilty or, as she claims, was the victim of a conspiracy involving corrupt baggage employees who planted more than 4 kg of cannabis in her suitcase?
“There is, however, no such debate in Indonesia. There, the ex-student of a beauty school is seen simply as a common criminal,” he concludes.
What Schapelle Corby doing these days?
Recently Schapelle Corby shares pictures of 40th birthday party on social media and also she shared pictures of her shopping trip to JB Hi-Fi on crutches.