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Corby dodges death, but 'life over'
By Rob Taylor in Denpasar - April 21, 2005

SCHAPELLE Corby whispered tearfully that her "life was over" after an Indonesian prosecutor dropped calls for the death sentence only to demand she spend the rest of her life behind bars in Bali.

Despite taking a tranquiliser, Ms Corby, 27, seemed inconsolable as she screamed and sobbed in a holding cell immediately after the hearing.

Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu asked the Denpasar District Court to find Ms Corby "officially and convincingly guilty" of attempting to smuggle 4.2kg of marijuana into Denpasar airport last year in her bodyboard bag.

"The defendant's actions can ruin the image of Bali as a tourist destination," he told the panel of three judges who must ultimately determine Ms Corby's fate.

"The defendant's actions can make Bali look like a drug haven and affect young people's lives."

Mr Wiswantanu told the packed court he had not asked for the death penalty, partly because Ms Corby had been polite during her trial and had no prior drug record.

But he maintained that his prosecution team had proven her wrongdoing despite her repeated pleas of innocence and claims that she had been the unwitting victim of a drug ring operating at Australian airports.

He also asked the court to impose a 100 million rupiah ($13,500) fine.

"We can imagine, that amount of marijuana, how many people can consume it," Mr Wiswantanu said, warning it was enough for 4200 people.

Ms Corby, who collapsed with stress and illness during her last two court appearances, was given a sedative before arriving at the court in a prison bus.

With 10-officer police escort, she walked handcuffed and unsteady through a chaotic media scrum and then sat quietly through most of the two-hour hearing.

But she began crying as the prosecutor explained his demand for life imprisonment.

She turned to her Balinese interpreter when the sentence request was complete and said "my life is over".

The submission by the prosecution is only a recommendation.

The panel of three judges will determine Ms Corby's guilt or innocence and impose any sentence, which could be higher or lower than the prosecutors' recommendation.

The judges are not expected to hand down a verdict for several weeks.

Ms Corby maintains she is innocent.

At the end of the proceedings, she walked to her sister Mercedes in the public gallery and cried: "It's not fair."

The pair hugged in tears over a barrier separating them.

"It's OK, it's OK," Mercedes said.

About 30 Australian onlookers in the court were equally shocked.

"I think it's terrible," one woman said.

If the judges agree with the prosecutor in their verdict, Ms Corby will spend the rest of her life in prison, although she might qualify for yearly remissions after five years.

The sentence could also be capped at 20 years for good behaviour.

Ms Corby was taken to a holding cell where she sat wailing in a high-pitched scream with her Perth cousin Melissa Younger.

"I was under the impression it was going to be a fair trial," Ms Younger said afterwards.

"I don't think it is, but we will see what the judges say."

The trial was adjourned until Thursday, when her defence lawyers will reply to the prosecution's submission.

Ms Corby's lawyer Lely Lubis said the legal process was not over.

She said she had asked her client to be strong but admitted stress was taking its toll.

"Anybody can go crazy after seven months like this," Ms Lubis said. "Anyone can get depression from this."

Mr Wiswantanu thanked Australia's Government and Ms Corby's family for the strong support they had given the trial process.

But he warned that "people should know that Indonesian law is very harsh against drugs".

Ms Lubis was also in tears afterwards and said the prosecutor had ignored crucial evidence.

"So many facts were not there, especially statements from witnesses," she said, adding the prosecutor's submission had been "unfair".

"I thought in the beginning he was a really fair guy."

Ms Corby's Australian lawyer Robin Tampoe said the defence team had expected the prosecution's demand and now had a week to respond.

"I told her to keep her chin up," he said.

"Next week is an important week we'll be preparing for it as hard as we can."

No firing squad for Schapelle Corby

Indonesian prosecutors have opted against a recommendation for the death penalty in the case of 27-year-old Schapelle Corby, who stands accused of attempting to smuggle just over 4 kilograms of marijuana into Bali last October.

Ms Corby, whose case has generated widespread support in Australia and has here been championed by media personality Paul Holmes, could have faced a firing squad if convicted.

The prosecutorial recommendation means that is very unlikely -- but it leaves open the possibility that, unless she is allowed to serve any sentence in Australia, she will die in an Indonesian prison if found guilty.

The case has angered many who see the prosecution of Ms Corby as hypocritical since it comes from a court that passed out an extraordinarily light sentence to the alleged leader of the alleged terror ring that set off the Bali bombs in 2002.

Ms Corby has maintained that the drugs were planted in her unlocked bags, most likely by baggage handlers, but no one has come forward to explain why anyone would pay more for drugs in Australia than could be recouped for their sale in Bali.

The widespread popular support for Ms Corby has not yet had an effect on Australian tourism to Bali, but as the case progresses, that is a possible outcome.

Prosecutor I Bagus Wiswantanu, on the other hand, told the court -- a tribunal -- that: "The defendant's actions can ruin the image of Bali as a tourist destination," and that her "actions can make Bali look like a drug haven and affect young people's lives," according to The Daily Telegraph.

The DT said Ms Corby was deeply shaken by the recommendation of life in prison and that following the hearing, she "was then walked to a holding cell at the rear of the court where she sat wailing in a high pitched scream as she was hugged by her cousin from Perth, Melissa Younger."

Corby relieved at penalty submission

Schapelle Corby's defence team says the Queensland woman is relieved that prosecutors in Bali have not called for the death penalty if she is found guilty of drug smuggling.

Prosecutors yesterday requested a life sentence for the 27-year-old if she is found guilty of smuggling four kilograms of marijuana into Indonesia last year. They also asked for a $13,400 fine.

They said they were "lenient" because Corby did not have a previous criminal record and she was polite to the court.

One of Corby's lawyers Robin Tampoe says his client is not surprised by the prosecution's submission.

"It was no huge shock that the prosecution would come down hard, it was expected to a large extent," he said.

He says Corby was upset after the court session.

"But she also understands and said to me when I spoke to her afterwards that this is only a game, it's only what the prosecution was asking for, and we've got a long way to go yet."

The defence team will ask the judge to set Corby free when it addresses the court next week.

Judge warns Corby could still face death
By South-East Asia correspondent Peter Lloyd

It is still possible that Australian woman Schapelle Corby, who is accused of smuggling marijuana into Bali, will face the death penalty if she is found guilty next month.

Speaking outside the Denpasar District court, chief judge Linton Siriat confirmed that he has the power under Indonesian law to sentence Corby to death by firing squad, despite the prosecution calling for a life sentence.

He said his deliberations will be conducted in secret and no details will be announced until he delivers his verdict at the end of May.

During sentencing submissions, prosecutors said the 27-year-old Gold Coast woman's actions in attempting to smuggle marijuana into Bali had given an image that the island is a haven for narcotics distribution.

The prosecution team took turns summarising their case and demolishing the credibility of all of Corby's witnesses, including prisoner John Ford and criminologist Paul Wilson.

They said Corby's refusal to admit her crime had compounded her culpability.

They said the only reason to give leniency from the maxmimum death sentence was Corby's politeness to the court and lack of previous criminal record in Australia.

Finally, after a two-hour presentation, prosecutors declared that Corby should receive a life sentence for the crime of smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali last October.

"[We] demand the district court of Denpasar... declare the defendant Schapelle Corby guilty of breaking the law by importing narcotics, and give a life sentence in jail to the defendant," prosecutor ID Wiswantanu said.

They also requested a fine of $13,400.

Before being led from court Corby tearfully embraced her sister.

Defence lawyers say they will ask the judge to reject the application and set Corby free when they address the court at the next hearing.

The case will resume next Thursday.

A verdict is not expected to be known for three to four weeks.

'Shard of positive light'

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says he is pleased the prosecution did not ask for the death sentence for Corby.

He says there is a chance the life sentence can be reduced if Corby is found guilty.

"We didn't want her to be sentenced to death and so the tiny little shard of positive light that comes through today is that the prosecution there have not recommended the death sentence, although they have recommended life," he said.

"But there again that is only a recommendation of the prosecution."

Mr Downer has warned the case is far from over, with further submissions yet to be heard from both the defence and prosecution.

"The judges obviously have the responsibility of making a decision, first of all as to whether Schapelle Corby is guilty or innocent and secondly, they will have the responsibility if she is found guilty of determining the sentence - not the prosecution," he said.

Schapelle needs our help: friends

ALAN HARDIE - Thursday, 21 April 2005

A Maitland man and long-time friend of Schapelle Corby is urging people to join "thousands of Australians" calling for the beauty student to be freed and sent home.

Lee Sujecki, from Telarah, said Ms Corby would be fit today to learn what sentence prosecutors would seek at her trial for alleged drug smuggling in Bali.

She could face the death penalty - or a life sentence - if she is found guilty.

Mr Sujecki told the Maitland Mercury that Ms Corby had passed a medical examination in Bali.

"She is physically well - but she is exhausted by the ordeal she has been through," he said.

Mr Sujecki and his partner Pauline Porter visited Ms Corby in her prison cell recently.

"I can understand the mental stress she is under," Mr Sujecki said.

"She is an innocent, hard-working girl who has never touched drugs in her life.

"Thoughout the time in court that she had a case to present, Schapelle could fight to maintain her innocence.

"But now she can only wait for what is thrown at her.

"It is a very traumatic experience for her."

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

"I have known Schapelle for several years - a holiday she saved so hard for became a nightmare for her," Mr Sujecki said.

"She has had to work very hard all her life.

"She could barely afford to go on holiday - she could not afford to buy drugs.

"She felt so safe going to Bali - and then someone put the marijuana in her bag.

"It is disgusting that something like this can happen."

Mr Sujecki said she had received thousands of supportive letters from Australians.

"It is important for people to get behind her and have her brought back home," he said.

"I urge everyone to write and call for her release.

"We hope the Indonesian legal system can be open-minded enough to do this.

"Schapelle has never smoked cannabis - she wouldn't even know what it looks like."

Mr Sujecki gave his friend a special silver ring he had bought for himself while in Bali.

"I told her: 'Schapelle, bring this home to me in Australia.'

"She is hanging on to that ring now.

"And I hope to get it back soon."

Bakir slams justice, breaks down

THE man bankrolling the defence of accused Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has slammed the Indonesian justice system despite prosecutors not seeking a death penalty.

Gold Coast entrepreneur Ron Bakir broke down during a brief interview on ABC radio this afternoon, soon after he was advised of the prosecution's push to have Ms Corby jailed for life.

"We were expecting the prosecution to ask that, but it's much harder when you hear it," he said.

"They've got no case to ask for anything. The girl should be home. The girl has done nothing wrong. The only thing they have is the drugs in her bag. It's an outrage. It's a massive injustice."

When asked why he was sure of Ms Corby's innocence, Mr Bakir ended the interview.

"Look, I'm sorry," he said.

"Just give me a second, guys. I'm really not in the frame of mind right now. My apologies. I have to come off the air."

Mr Bakir last week accused Indonesian prosecutors involved with the case of corruption.

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