Sydney (DPA): Australian officials are expected to arrive on Monday in Indonesia to start negotiations on a prisoner exchange agreement that would allow convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby to serve her 20-year sentence in a jail in her homeland, news reports said.
Indonesia last week rejected a one-off deal to have the 27-year-old former beautician, who was found guilty last month of smuggling 4.1 kilograms of cannabis into Bali, pass her time in an Australian prison.
Bruce Billson, parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, is going to Indonesia with a parliamentary delegation and told reporters that the government was optimistic that a wider prisoner swap pact could be reached, the national news agency AAP reported.
Billson said that he hoped to meet senior Indonesian ministers as well as other legislators during the delegation's visit to Jakarta.
"It would be a good opportunity to make the point that there are 30 Indonesians in Australian jails for federal offenses, and there's 14 Australians in Indonesian jails, mainly for drug-related offenses," he said.
"We would give encouragement to the Indonesianparliamentarians to support that prisoner transfer agreement when it arrives at their parliament."
Billson said the deal could be complicated by the fact that France and 10 other European nations are also in talks to get similar agreements, and there are differences between penalties in Indonesian and Australian criminal law.
"For instance, drug-related offenses in Indonesian courts have stiffer penalties than one would envisage here," he said. "And, also, the Indonesians feel that some of our sentencing arrangements for illegal fishing people that come into Australian waters are a bit stiff as well."