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Symbol of support means the world to Schapelle

By CINDY WOCKNER - April 19, 2005

SCHAPELLE Corby's case would not be affected by the arrest of nine young Australians accused of drug smuggling, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last night.

Mr Downer answered the question on people's lips when he said the arrests were unlikely to have a bearing on Corby's trial.

Corby faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad if convicted of smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali last October.

"I don't think one case should have any bearing on other cases," Mr Downer said.

"In that context, certainly in terms of the facts of the case, the facts of every case are obviously going to be different.

"There's no relationship between the alleged facts in this case and the alleged facts in the Schapelle Corby case."

As the drama of the nine arrests unfolded yesterday, the 27-year-old Gold Coast beauty student was praying that "the strength of a nation" would help bring her home and she said yesterday that the overwhelming public support had helped keep her strong.

The 27-year-old alleged drug smuggler thanked her fellow Australians from behind bars at the Denpasar Prosecutor's office.

Looking calm, but pale, Corby was yesterday taken to the prosecution office en route to a planned hospital medical examination which was later cancelled. That check-up is now expected to happen today.

Her heart was touched when one of her lawyers, Erwin Siregar, brought a cuddly toy koala which had been sent by an Australian woman called Elizabeth, who he said had experienced a similar situation to Corby's.

"Oh My God," Corby exclaimed.

"Well, Elizabeth . . . thank you. I can't wait to give it a big hug," she said, touching the koala through the bars.

"There are so many lovely people out there."

Corby said the support from so many people she had never met had been "phenomenal".

"I have received quite a few [letters] and I will reply to them when I get home, but it's been fantastic.

"They've really, really kept me strong," she said.

The support, in the shape of cards, letters, prayers and gifts, was "everything" to her during her five months in jail and the darkest days of her trial.

"It's absolutely everything, it keeps me going. And I just want to thank them so much for everything.

"I mean, the strength of a nation, which hopefully should overcome anything, any problem," Corby said.

In the letters, people were telling her to keep strong, they believed in her and "can't wait until I get home".

Mr Siregar told Corby of the woman Elizabeth, who had experienced a similar problem to hers on a flight from Sydney to Singapore but who had been lucky and her case had not ended up in court.

"She made a statement in front of the Indonesian Consulate in Adelaide and then they will send it to me as soon as possible so I can give it to the judge," Mr Siregar said.

He said it was hoped that when he received the letter he could present it as part of the defence's closing address to the court and that it could be used in consideration of the verdict.

But later Mr Siregar would not elaborate on the statement's full contents, saying he had not yet received it from Australia.

Corby was taken from her jail cell at Kerobokan to the prosecutor's office in a prison van with a police escort in front with sirens blaring.

The prosecution is expected to deliver its sentence demand on Thursday.

Bali Heroin arrests no bearing on Corby case, Downer says
THE arrests in Bali of nine Australians allegedly involved in heroin trafficking is unlikely to have any bearing on the case of Schapelle Corby, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today.

Five of the nine were arrested at Denpasar airport as they boarded a Sydney flight in the early hours of today, while a raid on a hotel on the island resulted in the capture of the other four, Australian Federal Police said.

Ms Corby is meanwhile facing a court in Bali, accused of trying to smuggle 4.1kg of cannabis into Bali. She denies the charge.

"I don't think one case should have any bearing on other cases," Mr Downer said.

"In that context, certainly in terms of the facts of the case, the facts of every case are obviously going to be different.

"There's no relationship between the alleged facts in this case and the alleged facts in the Schapelle Corby case."

Although there were only allegations against the Australians arrested today, Mr Downer said it was timely to note the serious consequences of attempting to traffic drugs.

Indonesia carries the death penalty for drug trafficking, unlike Australia, which has no death penalty.

"This is yet another ... clear message to all Australians that drug trafficking is not only immoral, because of the consequences for the people who consume the drugs, but it is also a profoundly serious criminal offence," he said.

"People who contemplate trafficking in drugs do face very, very severe penalties.

"I would have thought that, with all the publicity there has been around the whole issue of drug trafficking, not just recently but over very many years, only a very foolish person would ever consider getting involved in such activities," he said.

But Mr Downer said the latest arrests were carried out in Indonesia because that was where the alleged offences occurred.

"The (alleged) offence was committed in Indonesia and obviously, in that case, where an offence is committed, that jurisdiction would normally deal with that offence," Mr Downer said.

"You (can't) imagine allowing people to escape from one jurisdiction into another jurisdiction.

"So, where an alleged offence is committed, that's where charges will be brought."

Australian police said the latest arrests were the result of a 10-week joint investigation with Indonesian detectives on a gang they suspected of buying narcotics in Bali to be taken to Australia using couriers.

No charges have been laid in the latest cases.

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