Indonesian court cuts Corby jail term by five years: lawyer

AFP/file Photo: A high court in Indonesia's Bali island has reduced by five years a 20-year drug...
JAKARTA (AFP) - A high court in Indonesia's Bali island has reduced by five years a 20-year drug smuggling jail term imposed on Australian former beauty student Schapelle Corby, her lawyer said.

"That is correct. The verdict has been issued. I received the news from the high court just today. A copy of the ruling will be delivered to the Denpasar district court this Friday," Erwin Siregar told AFP.

Corby, 28, was in May found guilty of smuggling after 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana was found stashed inside her unlocked surfboard bag when she arrived in Bali.

Siregar said Corby, who is in Bali's Kerobokan jail, had not been informed about the ruling but he expects prosecutors to lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court against the sentence cut.

The original sentence outraged many Australians, partly due to its severity and partly because many believed her lawyers' claims that international drug smugglers put the marijuana in her bag without her knowledge.

The high court ordered the reopening of her original trial to hear additional witnesses, following a request from Corby's lawyers.

Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison said in August that Canberra was "steadfast" in its willingness to help the appeal but could not force people to testify in the case.

One of Corby's lawyers, Hotman Paris Hutapea, had accused Canberra of not doing enough to assist Corby.

He had expressed hope that two Australian prisoners would give evidence via video link to help overturn her conviction. Schapelle Corby's jail term cut Corby to fight drug sentence Corby lawyer plans new appeal

Schapelle Corby's jail term cut

Corby's case has generated widespread sympathy in Australia
A court in Indonesia has cut the sentence being served by Australian woman Shapelle Corby, her lawyers have said.

Corby, who was found guilty of smuggling marijuana into Bali in May, will now serve 15 years in jail instead of 20, attorney Hotman Paris said.

But Corby's sister Mercedes said she was furious with the appeal verdict. "She should be free," Mercedes said.

Corby's case has gripped Australians, with many believing she is innocent.

Mr Paris said he was considering whether to appeal the ruling.

"Her sentence has been reduced by five years to 15 years, but that is still inhuman," Mr Paris said.

"This is only marijuana, not heroin. If the prosecutor appeals this case, then I will also appeal. I also will talk about the verdict with Corby."

Corby's sister said her family was devastated by the appeal court's decision.

"She didn't do it. She should be free," Mercedes Corby said. "I was expecting the Australian government to do something. We're not happy in this sentence and we will appeal immediately."

Corby insists she is innocent, and claims that the 4.1 kg (9 lb) of marijuana found in her surfboard bag were planted.

Corby to fight drug sentence
By Rob Taylor and Marian Carroll in Denpasar - October 12, 2005

Schapelle Corby / Reuters Appeal ... Corby will serve 15 years in a Bali jail / Reuters
LAWYERS for convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby have vowed to take her legal battle to Indonesia's highest court after a Bali appeal court cut only five years from her 20-year jail term.

The Bali High Court shortened Corby's sentence today to 15 years following a protracted legal appeal and several trial reopenings in the lower Denpasar District Court.

"There is a verdict. They reduced by five years to 15 years," lead lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea said.

Corby's family and high-powered legal team had been hoping the court would free the former Gold Coast beauty student, or at least slash her sentence for drug smuggling by 10 to 15 years.

Her sister Mercedes said the family was distraught and weighing up whether to tell Corby by phone, or wait until a regular visit to Denpasar's Kerobokan Prison tomorrow.

"She didn't do it. She should be free," she said.

"I was expecting the Australian Government to do something.

"We're not happy in this sentence and we will appeal immediately."

Mr Hutapea said he had not been officially advised of the decision, which was made behind closed doors and delivered on paper without any court appearance by Corby.

Corby was arrested on October 8 last year after customs officers at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport found 4.1kg of marijuana in her unlocked bodyboard bag.

In May, Corby, now 28, was sentenced to 20 years for drug smuggling, after maintaining the drugs were not hers.

She has consistently claimed the stash must have been planted in her baggage by an Australian drug gang using her as an unwitting courier.

Corby's next avenue of appeal is to the peak Supreme Court in Jakarta.

Mercedes Corby said she would immediately tell her mother Rosleigh Rose, currently in Bali, of the decision.

"I was prepared; Mum wasn't," she said.

She accused Canberra of trying to hide the lax security situation at Australian airports and said letters to the Federal Government had gone unanswered.

"The longer she is here, the more people will forget about her. That's what they (the Government) think," she said.

Corby supporters also condemned the appeal court's decision.

"It's absolute tokenism ... it's a pittance," Schapelle Corby Support Group co-ordinator Rachelle Hamilton said.

"I suppose they have to be seen to be upholding the Muslim or Indonesian way and she's been made to carry the can."

Mr Hutapea said he believed the 15 years was "not too bad".

"But I hope we get a better result from the Supreme Court," he said.

However, he said he believed the prosecution in the case would also appeal against the Bali High Court's sentence reduction.

Another of Corby's legal team, Erwin Siregar, confirmed the cut in Corby's sentence and said they still believed she had a chance to be freed by the Supreme Court.

"We will request through the Supreme Court to allow a teleconference for testimony from new witnesses," he said.

Last month Corby's lawyers said they hoped to organise a video link from Australia to allow unidentified witnesses to present new evidence about who really owned the drugs.

But they were unable to convince Bali's High Court they could find fresh witnesses.

Prosecutor Wiswantanu said there would be no teleconference, because the higher court would not allow fresh evidence in its deliberations.

"Judges in the Supreme Court will only examine the legal documents and there will be no new examination to look for more facts," he said.

"There will be no new hearing after the High Court decision, so there will be no teleconference. It is impossible."

Corby lawyer plans new appeal
Wednesday October 12, 08:00 PM

Schapelle Corby's Indonesian lawyer says he will launch an appeal to the Supreme Court in Jakarta in a bid to win her freedom, after her prison sentence for drug smuggling was reduced by five years.

The reduction of the 28-year-old's sentence from 20 to 15 years was confirmed to the media by Corby's sister Mercedes.

Corby, from the Gold Coast, was found guilty of smuggling more than four kilograms of marijuana into Bali last October.

Her Lawyer, Erwin Sirigar, says he will not be happy until a higher appeal court overturns the conviction and sets Corby free.

Another of Corby's Indonesian lawyers thinks his client's sentence would have been reduced even further if the case had not had such a high profile.

Lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea says the High Court in Denpasar will send him the written reasons for the decision to cut Corby's jail term in the next few days.

"I keep writing letters to the High Court, that's why they reduce the sentence," he told Triple J's Hack program.

"But considering there are so many people who were in this case before may upset judges, that's why they have difficulty to reduce it."

The Bali court is expected to make a formal announcement about the sentence reduction tomorrow or Friday.

Mercedes Corby is expected to visit her sister in prison to relay the news.

Speaking from Bali, Corby's mother Rosleigh Rose says the family is taking little comfort from the reduced sentence.

"I thought Schapelle was going to come home," she said.

"Our Government has done nothing to help Schapelle, nothing at all, hasn't even released to the lawyers and the judges about how corrupt our airports are.

"I felt for Schapelle, she was positive, she was coming home, thought the Government would be helping her, doing something.

"They know she did not do this."

Corby's brother Michael says it has been an emotional time for his sister.

"Sometimes she thinks she's going to get out free but then she has to realise that it's probably not going to happen so it's really hard," he said.

"But I think five years off, it's better than nothing."

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