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New clue may save Schapelle

By Tony Vermeer and Clare Masters

A NOTE by a security official who died mysteriously after alleging drug-running at Sydney Airport has been delivered to lawyers for accused marijuana smuggler Schapelle Corby. They claim the note is evidence supporting Corby's plea that she is an innocent victim of criminal networks using airports for drug trafficking.

Its author, former Australian Protective Services officer Gary Lee-Rogers, was found dead in his Queanbeyan flat in October, 2002.

An autopsy was unable to ascertain the cause of death, but Mr Lee-Rogers' family and whistle-blowers believe he was murdered after allegedly uncovering corruption in the APS's operations at the airport.

Lawyers for Gold Coast beautician Schapelle Corby told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday they intended to use this latest information in final submissions to the Indonesian court where Corby is facing a possible death sentence.

Her legal team has received hundreds of letters and e-mails alleging interference with luggage at airports since the claims were raised by Victorian prisoner John Ford.

A coronial finding into his death is due to be handed down at Queanbeyan on Wednesday.

In e-mails to friends, Mr Lee-Rogers predicted he would be killed because of what he had allegedly discovered and said his death would be covered up as a suicide.

One e-mail said he had received an anonymous phone call warning that "I had tripped over evidence of drug importation though Sydney Airport involving the old Commonwealth Police network."

He alleged the caller had gone on to name two APS officers. The APS was responsible for security at airports and Commonwealth buildings until 2002, when it was folded into the Australian Federal Police.

The e-mail was passed on to Corby's legal team by Whistleblowers Australia president Dr Jean Lennane, who said it might be a clue to his death.

"What we have here is a man who has died in mysterious circumstances after raising concerns about airport security," Dr Lennane said.

A member of Corby's defence team, Gold Coast lawyer Matthew Gibson, said the Lee-Rogers document backed up claims something was awry at the airport.

Corby was arrested after 4.1kg of marijuana was discovered in her boogie board bag at Bali airport.

Mr Lee-Rogers was in charge of security training at Sydney airport before the 2000 Olympics.

But his career collapsed when he warned his superiors about security problems within the APS, including racketeering, the promotion of badly trained officers and misappropriation of government funding.

Evidence at his inquest revealed an APS audit had found 47 revolvers, two rifles, six shotguns, 30 sets of handcuffs and 18 batons had disappeared, along with computers and cameras.

In the week before his death, the 47-year-old was badly bashed and claimed an AFP officer had put a gun to his mouth.

Mr Lee-Rogers' former de facto, Kathleen Mills, said she hoped the inquest's findings would bring some relief after three years of torment.

Businessman Ron Bakir, who is bankrolling Corby's defence, said the note was important evidence.

"It'll help prove that the girl has been set up. There's been a drug-trafficking problem at the airport, but she's a victim," he said.

Prosecutors to seek life in jail - Corby's defence
18 April 2005 - By MATTHEW MOORE

The defence team representing accused Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby in her trial in Indonesia says prosecutors will ask for a life sentence and a fine of $A133,000 ($NZ143,000) - not the death penalty - when her trial resumes this week.

Vasu Rasiah, the spokesman for the Queensland beauty student's legal team, said he had received this information from reliable sources, but he would not reveal who they were. "That's what they are proposing, that's the latest I was told," Mr Rasiah said yesterday.

Prosecutors have refused to say what sentence they will seek. Mr Rasiah criticised the prosecution, saying their sentencing submission would demonstrate they had taken no account of the witnesses Corby's legal team had produced in court.

"That [sentence request] is not fair. If it's true, then it shows there is no system of legal fairness in this country," Mr Rasiah said. "How can Australia boldly come and help a country that does not have a fair legal system?"

Prosecutors will try for the third time this Thursday to deliver their sentence request to Denpasar District Court after the last two scheduled hearings were cancelled because Corby fell ill.

After Corby collapsed in court on Thursday, Chief Judge Linton Sirait signed a letter of permission, allowing her to leave Kerobokan jail to undergo a check-up at Sanglah Hospital.

But Mr Rasiah said Corby had yet to receive the check-up and he did not know when she might be allowed out of the prison.

Plans to take Corby to the hospital on Friday were postponed because of the presence of reporters outside the prison.

The delay in getting Corby to hospital came after her financial backer, the Queensland businessman Ron Bakir, accused prosecutors of asking the defence team to pay a bribe.

Mr Bakir said the conduct of prosecutors was "an absolute disgrace". But he denied he was talking about a bribe when he said prosecutors had asked for something in exchange for something Corby's defence team wanted.

During the trial, Corby's defence produced several witnesses to prove her case that a bag containing 4.1 kilograms of marijuana was placed in her boogie board bag after she checked it in at Brisbane Airport and then boarded her flight to Denpasar.

While some witnesses have given evidence pointing to Corby's innocence, no one provided the name of the person who did own the drugs, making it likely Corby will be convicted.

Mr Rasiah said the judges had told prosecutors they should consider all the evidence presented, but they were interested only in the fact that Corby's bag contained marijuana. "[They] would not take any other evidence," Mr Rasiah said. "They have the balls to say I will only consider the importation, the fact the bag was tagged in her name, and the goods were in her bag."

He said Corby should not be convicted of importing drugs if this was not done knowingly or without her consent. "Prosecutors should find the truth. These guys aren't interested in any other evidence."

Corby 'won't be given death penalty'
By Matthew Moore - Indonesia correspondent Jakarta The defence team representing accused drug smuggler Schapelle Corby say prosecutors will ask for a life sentence and a fine of $133,000 when the trial resumes this week.

They would not seek the death penalty, Corby legal team spokesman Vasu Rasiah believes.

Mr Rasiah told The Age the information was reliable, but would not reveal its source.

"That's what they are proposing; that's the latest I was told," Mr Rasiah said yesterday. Prosecutors have refused to say what sentence they will seek.

Mr Rasiah blasted as unfair the proposed request for a life sentence. He said such a request would demonstrate that prosecutors had taken no account of the witnesses Corby's legal team had produced.

"If it's true then it shows there is no system of legal fairness in this country," Mr Rasiah said.

Corby, 27, has denied smuggling 4.1 kilograms of cannabis into Bali last October.

Prosecutors will try for the third time this Thursday to deliver their sentence request to Denpasar District court. The last two scheduled hearings were cancelled because Corby was ill.

After Corby collapsed in court on Thursday, Chief Judge Linton Sirait gave permission for her to be taken to Sanglah Hospital for a check-up. But she had still not been taken, Mr Rasiah said.

Plans to take Corby to hospital on Friday were postponed because media were gathered outside the prison.

The delay in getting Corby to the hospital came after Queensland businessman and financial backer of Corby, Ron Bakir, accused prosecutors of asking the defence team to pay a bribe.

While some witnesses have stated Corby is not guilty, none has provided the name of the person who did own the drugs, making it very likely Corby will be convicted.

Mr Rasiah said the judges in the case had told prosecutors they should consider all the evidence presented, but they were only interested in the fact that Corby's bag contained marijuana.

He said Corby should not be convicted of importing drugs if it was done without her consent.

Letter hints at AFP cover-up: Corby adviser

Lawyers for Schapelle Corby have accused Australian police of a cover-up and warned their "bewildering" lack of cooperation may have condemned the former beauty student to 27 years in a Bali jail.

Revelations a former airport security officer tipped authorities off to a domestic drug-running operation at Sydney Airport, before he mysteriously died in 2002, proved the Australian Federal Police knew more than they were admitting, said an adviser to Corby's team, Vasu Rasiah.

Former Australian Protective Services (APS) officer Gary Lee-Rogers was found dead in his Queanbeyan flat in October 2002 after alerting authorities to the racket in a letter.

His family and whistle-blowers believe he was the victim of a revenge murder.

"This letter is just bewildering. This AFP is startling us from the beginning," Vasu said.

Corby's legal team had only recently asked the AFP and Justice Minister Chris Ellison to confirm to Indonesia's Attorney-General that they were investigating an airport drug racket in Australia, possibly accounting for how 4.1kg of marijuana ended up in her travel luggage.

Indonesian authorities required official notification of the investigation before they could take Corby's defence that the drugs were planted in her bag into account, Vasu said.

"The AFP woman with him just shrugged," he said.

"The Minister never asked [for the Indonesians] to take all things into consideration.

"The AFP all the way along has been the biggest obstruction in this case. Why are they lying so much?"

Vasu said Corby's lawyers would present the letter to judges and prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu this week.

Wiswantanu, who last week lashed out at hints he tried to bribe defence lawyers, is set to outline his sentence request after a two-week delay caused by an illness Corby contracted.

But Vasu said the evidence may have come too late to reinforce Corby's plea to being a unwitting drug courier used by criminal gangs, as a verdict is now due in weeks.

"It's a little late, but we won't give up," Vasu said, warning the prosecutor was set on demanding a 27-year life sentence for Corby and one billion rupiah ($133,000) fine.

He said the AFP should explain to the Australian public why they had refused to assist Indonesian authorities with finger-printing the plastic bag containing the marijuana.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty should also explain why he had so readily dismissed evidence from a Victorian prisoner alleging an airport drug-running ring when he had then gone straight out and launched an investigation into the supposedly "hearsay" claims.

"Are they going to allow this cover-up forever?" he said.

"Why do they bullshit the people all the time?"

Vasu said lawyers had asked for Corby to be given police protection at her appearance this week after she was caught in a media crush on her way into court last Thursday. The hearing was abandoned in chaos after Corby collapsed.

A newspaper report today said that in emails to friends, Gary Lee-Rogers predicted he would be killed because of what he had allegedly discovered.

He said his death would be covered up as a suicide.

The APS was responsible for security at airports and Commonwealth buildings until 2002, when it became part of the AFP.

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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff