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Bali court sentences Corby to 20 years in jail
By Tomi Soetjipto Fri May 27, 2:05 AM ET

BALI, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Indonesian court on Friday sentenced Australian beauty therapist Schapelle Corby to 20 years in jail for trying to smuggle 4.1 kg (9 lb) of marijuana into Bali, triggering outrage from her family and friends.

"The panel of judges declares the defendant legally and convincingly guilty of the crime of illegal importation of narcotics," judge Linton Sirait told a hearing watched live across Australia, where the case has transfixed the nation.

As soon as Sirait read the verdict, Corby's mother, Rosleigh Rose, shouted at the three judges on the panel: "Liar, liar. Honey, we are going to take you home."

Corby turned to her mother and pleaded with her to calm down. "Mum, stop, it's okay," she cried, holding her hand up in the air in a motion for her mother to stop yelling.

Standing to hear the verdict and wearing pink trousers and a black blouse, Corby occasionally slapped her forehead with her palm in grief. She struggled to contain her emotions and at times became angry.

Prosecutors had demanded life in jail for Corby, 27, who has repeatedly argued the drugs found by airport officials in her unlocked bag on the famous holiday island last year were not hers and that they were planted.

Corby's family said they would appeal.

Earlier, officials whisked Corby into the court through a side entrance, avoiding scores of journalists.

"She's probably the worst I've ever seen her," Corby's Australian lawyer Robin Tampoe earlier told Australian television on Friday ahead of the court session.

The court had leeway to disregard the prosecutors' demand and sentence Corby to death if she was found guilty.

Corby's trial has gripped Australia. Her plight has also triggered a series of threats against Indonesian diplomatic missions in the country.

Her lawyers have insisted many people could have put the drugs into their client's bodyboard bag along the way from Brisbane to Bali, especially because it was not locked.

Corby, from Australia's eastern Gold Coast, changed planes in Sydney and her defense team has said she was the victim of a drug ring running narcotics from Brisbane to Sydney.

For some reason, the drugs were not removed from her bag in Sydney, the defense has said.

PLEA FROM PRIME MINISTER

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said this month the government had written to the court to detail new allegations against Australian airport baggage handlers following the arrest of 15 people in Australia on charges of importing drugs.

Howard has said he would not interfere with the Indonesian justice system but that he hoped the Bali court would deliver a "true and fair and just verdict."

The trial comes at a time of improved ties between Jakarta and Canberra. Some analysts had said a death sentence on Corby could strain relations.

Indonesia, like many Asian nations, imposes tough penalties for drug offences.

Last week, Indonesia asked Australian police to boost security at its diplomatic and consular missions ahead of the verdict.

The Indonesian Embassy in Canberra has said its diplomats and consular officials around Australia had received threats by mail and e-mail about the Corby case.

In April, bullets were sent to the Indonesian consulate in the West Australian city of Perth along with a letter containing a warning that staff would be killed unless Corby was freed.

The two countries have discussed a possible prisoner swap agreement, under which Corby might be able to serve time in Australia if she is convicted.

The case has also put Bali under the spotlight, with Indonesia's police chief labeling it a hub for international drug trafficking syndicates.

Indonesian police arrested nine Australians last month in Bali for alleged heroin trafficking. They have yet to face trial.

(With additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in Canberra)

Click Here for Schapelle Corby Case Information

Australians shocked by sentence
Friday, May 27, 2005 Posted: 0847 GMT (1647 HKT)

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australians have reacted with shock to the severity of the sentence handed down over drug charges against 27-year-old beauty student Schapelle Corby.

Corby, who was convicted Friday of importing 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Indonesia, was fined and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

The case has dominated media in Australia for the past month and workers were glued to television screens as the verdict was broadcast live throughout the nation.

A recent survey showed 90 percent of Australians believed Corby to be innocent of the charges, believing her defense argument that the drugs found in her possession in Denpasar, Bali airport, were planted there.

Even before the sentence, there were calls for Australians to boycott the popular holiday destination of Bali and to ban Indonesian products.

Other Australians have called for the government to withdraw the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid sent to Indonesia following the December 26 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Aceh region.

Commenting after the verdict, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander told Australians it would be counterproductive to criticize the Indonesian legal system and would impact on Australia "very very badly."

He also urged Australians not to attack or threaten Indonesians or call the nations missions.

Downer said the government was going to begin discussions formally with the Indonesian government over a prisoner exchange program, and was hopeful that such an agreement could be struck before the appeals process for Corby's case was concluded.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said earlier that Australians should accept the verdict.

"We have to accept the justice systems of other countries," he said.

Corby case strains Indonesia-Australia ties, FM warns against backlash
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's leaders have warned retaliation against Indonesians over Schapelle Corby's conviction for drug smuggling would not be tolerated, as experts predict the case will test recently-improved ties between Canberra and Jakarta.

There was public outrage in Australia at the 27-year-old beauty therapist's conviction and 20-year jail sentence for smuggling 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana into the resort island of Bali last October on a flight from Brisbane.

Australian television networks broadcast the court's judgement live, focussing on the weeping face of Corby who, opinion polls show, is believed to be innocent by more than 90 percent of Australians.

Police heightened security around Indonesian diplomatic mission in Australia ahead of the verdict.

After the judgement was announced, Greens senator Bob Brown organised a protest outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra and talkback radio lines were clogged with callers saying they would boycott Indonesian products and no longer holiday in Bali.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said public concern about the conviction should not spill over into attacks on Indonesians because a backlash would be counterproductive.

"Indonesian staff should not be threatened, Indonesian government officials should not be abused or threatened," he told reporters. "To do that type of thing is entirely counter-productive.

"There is a long way to go in this case and overreactions of one kind or another is not going to help at all."

Prime Minister John Howard acknowledged the huge interest in Australia about the fate of Corby and urged his compatriots to accept the conviction.

"As the father of young adult children, I know that many other mothers and fathers around Australia will feel the vulnerability that is felt by the family of this girl," he said.

"The fact that we are a nation whose young travel so much makes it an issue that has touched this country very directly. But it remains the case that after hearing the evidence the court has found her guilty."

Analysts said the strong public reaction to the case would put strains on the relationship between Canberra and Jakarta, which has recently been boosted by Australia's 1 billion dollars (760 million US) in aid and a visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"It's created an awkward situation for the Australian government, because it has to try to manage the public reaction in Australia while at the same time maintaining its encouragement for an independent judiciary in Indonesia," University of Sydney Southeast Asia expert Edward Aspinall told AFP.

Malcolm Cook, an Asia analyst at Sydney think tank the Lowy Institute for International Policy said most Australians remained sceptical about Indonesia, and the Corby case could erode the goodwill generated in the wake of the December 26 tsunami disaster.

"There's a bedrock of opinion in Australia that has a very ambivalent attitude towards Indonesia and this will reinforce those stereotypes," he told AFP.

The negative attitude toward Indonesia was reflected in calls to talkback radio. A caller who identified himself as John, from the Sydney suburb of Maroubra, said Corby was the vicitm of rough justice.

"I have just rung my travel agent and changed my holiday plans from Bali to Fiji," he said. "If I could get the money I gave to the tsunami appeal back I would."

Another caller, Daryl, said Australians should not give aid to the nation that jailed Corby.

"We are just a great white stupid sponge that spends billions of dollars in aid so that we will like them and they will think we are wonderful people," he said.

Downer said the Australian government would offer Corby's defence team the use of two senior lawyers who specialise in Asian law to assist in her appeal.

It will consider requests for cash to pay for the appeal.

Also, Australian officials would meet their Indonesian counterparts on June 6 to negotiate a prisoner transfer agreement that would allow Corby to serve her sentence in her homeland.

Downer said he had sympathy for Corby but he was relieved she had not been sentenced to death.

Transcript of Schapelle Corby Verdict

Transcript begins:

At the checking counter, the witness asked the suspect to put the bag on the table and open the bag. He said nothing else. Then the suspect was asked to open the big zip. The suspect looked very nervous about opening the bag.

Then both the officers took the suspect to another room, opened the bag and found a boogie board and one plastic container of marijuana.

They then asked "What is this?" The suspect replied "It's mine". Then they coordinated with the superintendent to hand the matter over to the police.

It's true the suspect admitted the marijuana was hers. It's true the police came in the special room. It's true the police checked the boogie bag and the suspect's name is Schapelle Corby.

The police asked questions of the suspect. Then, based on the statement given by the customs officers who also asked questions of the suspect, they said the suspect admitted the bag was hers. When they opened the bag they found marijuana there.

The police did a second test on the marijuana. After the two tests were done, the police had the appropriate evidence. They considered the witness statement suspect.

It is true when the witness asked the suspect to open the bag, the suspect said "No". It is true one of the witnesses and police officers opened one of the bags. They found three items in there. They did a test for marijuana in the special room. It's true they checked the plane tag on the bag and it was the same as the name on the passport.

It is true that at approximately 7pm the suspect was taken for more investigation.

It is true that one of the witnesses asked if the suspect has any permit or licence to bring marijuana into Indonesia.

Based on the statement of the witness, they didn't do any fingerprinting on the suspect.

This is the statement given by an expert customs witness and it is right that the suspect was caught taking marijuana into Indonesia. This is what is customary in Indonesia. It is true that a party must have a licence or permit from an appropriate Indonesian ministry to bring in any drug or marijuana into Indonesia.

It is true all the baggage from the plane was taken into the airport security area.

Then, according to the statement given by the expert witness, the suspect said she doesn't know anything about Indonesian customs.

The second witness was a professor, an expert witness.

If somebody brings narcotics or drugs into Indonesia, it's a crime. In front of the court this is the truth.

Further investigation must be done to present the truth in front of the court. Doing fingerprinting is necessary to get to the truth of the case.

The witness came to Denpasar, Bali, together with the suspect that morning. One pair of flippers belonged to the suspect. In Brisbane airport the witness went together with the suspect. The last item the suspect checked in was the boogie board bag containing one boogie board and one pair of flippers.

All the passengers went to Sydney. Then they flew on to Denpasar. The witness asked the brother to get the bag. When the baggage was checked in Brisbane, the witness didn't see anything suspicious. The witness said the suspect is a very good person and doesn't think the suspect has done anything. When they arrived at Sydney airport, there was a discussion about boys. At all times the suspect felt very down. It is true that the boogie board bag belongs to the suspect. It was true that at the time of checking in there was only a boogie board and one pair of flippers in the bag.

It is true that the suspect and the witness stayed at Sydney airport for two hours before going on to Denpasar. The witness saw the suspect and brother carry the bag. The witness said they didn't know which was the green line or the red one.

The witness said that at the check-in counter, the suspect opened the bag and when she saw the plastic transparent bag, she was shocked and stepped back.

A friend came to see them at Sydney airport.

The witness said that "as long as I've known the suspect, she's never been involved in any drugs or narcotics". It is true the suspect is a beautician in Brisbane.

According to the witness Scott, the bag weighed three to four kilos. When they found the bag weighed more than four kilos, they did some more checking on the bag. Brisbane airport is different for domestic flights and international flights.

She has never been in court before and has no prior record. It's clear she's a person that's not involved in narcotics. It's possible she's a victim of drug trafficking. There must be an investigation on the basis of this evidence.

As there are no other witnesses that had been brought forward by the prosecution, Corby gave the following testimony.

Prior to the incident she lived in her father's home with Katherine. Katherine and the suspect came to Bali to have a holiday at the House of Ali. They only carried a bum bag. When they were getting ready that night, they packed the rubber flippers and the boogie board to take to the airport with their baggage. They checked in and went to the waiting room. Katherine and James went on to another plane.

As the boogie board was overweight, it couldn't be carried onto the plane and had to be checked in.

The plane flew to Sydney, where there were many check-in counters. At Brisbane there was an oversize-baggage handler. She says she doesn't have any idea what happened to it after that. The weight of the bag wasn't recorded. The plane transited Sydney. They went from Brisbane to Sydney, then Sydney to Denpasar. She didn't know who got into the bag or who might have put something into it after she checked it into Brisbane.

She looked for her bag when she got off the plane in Denpasar. The bag was taken off the plane and left on the floor.

Thirteen years ago she graduated from high school. In Australia she's never been involved with anything to do with drugs. Marijuana is a prohibited drug. She came to Bali to visit her family and she took the opportunity for a holiday.

She has come to Bali four times. She was trying to take a Garuda flight to Bali but it was cancelled, so she was forced to take a Qantas flight instead.

The suspect's bag was just one of the bags in a group of bags with her friends. There was evidence the bag in question belonged to her. Inside the boogie board bag was another package. The customs official said the suspect was surprised to find that in her bag. While it's true the boogie board was the property of the suspect, it was the first time she had seen the marijuana when the bag was opened.

When the bag was opened and they saw the marijuana, the customs officer asked "Whose is this?" and she said "It's mine". She was shocked when the bag was opened. She said she knew nothing about what was in the bag.

However, she knew it was marijuana that was in the bag because she could smell it. She says she did not put the marijuana in the bag and didn't know it was there and that she was not involved or never had been involved in anything like that.

The suspect very much respects her family and is respected by them. She didn't know definitely what was going to happen. Is there someone else who could have put it in her bag? She took two bags to the airport and didn't pay much attention to them. She knew that after the Bali incident that any bags would be inspected. She was shocked because she didn't put it in the bag.

She knew bringing anything like that into Indonesia was prohibited. Transmitting, possessing, trafficking is prohibited. Her income when she came to Bali was from working. Her father is sick. She brought only $1300 to Bali. Someone else put the drugs into her bag, but she doesn't know who.

Her brother James was brought into the customs room. Interrogation was negative.

She denied owning it. She said 'I'm here because I love my father, nothing to do with drugs'. No history of narcotics. That she came to Bali because she loves it.

Because of her love for her family she can't be sentenced heavily. The request is for a sentence that's kind and fair.

She's asked they give her a fair judgement as she wants to go home.

According to the law she will respect any decision that's handed down.

The prosecutor read a clinical report in full. The report showed that the bag was tested in full and tested positive. This drug is a category one under the law. The suspect's legal advisor wants consideration under the code of criminal procedure. There is a request for the judge to reopen the case to allow John Patrick Ford to testify. He testified the suspect was a victim of drug trafficking in Australia. She understands the penalty for giving false witnesses.

The customs officer has been working for the government for several years.

Testimony of John Patrick Ford, who overheard in prison about drugs and trafficking.

The testimony given by the customs officials is being discussed. The testimony from the customs officer was that because the bag was suspect, it was put through the X-ray machine. All the bags came from the same flight and it wasn't clear who owned the bags.

After it was put through the X-ray, the customs officer testified the bag was collected by the suspect and taken through the channel for goods not to be declared through the green zone instead of the red zone. The customs officer is the main witness for the prosecution. His testimony was corroborated by one of his colleagues, however there were no fingerprinting or tapes, it's only their word. Importation of drugs is a danger to the Indonesians because of the current drug problems within the country.

The bag was tested to see if it was marijuana. The police witness saw the marijuana that was in the bag and testified the suspect said "No, no" when asked to open the bag.

When she was asked who owned it, she said "It's mine". The witness testified it was found to be marijuana. The witnesses at the airport have agreed with each other on the testimony, the fact that drugs were imported into Indonesia and it occurred at Denpasar airport. This has occurred without any licence or permit to do so. It's clear the importation of a prohibited drug did occur. The suspect carried the bag containing the marijuana through the customs area. Its true Schapelle Corby has imported drugs through the airport. Importing prohibited drugs creates an impression that Indonesia is a haven for drugs. The drug problem is a danger to humanity and it's considered to be a very serious offence. The Indonesian government is trying to eradicate drugs being brought into Indonesia.

She's a family person who loves her family. She only came to Bali for a holiday and has no prior connection to drugs.

Professor Wilson's evidence isn't supported and the court isn't giving much weight to his testimony.

The testimony of the police has to be accepted because they're sworn officers of the law.

John Ford's testimony is based on hearsay as it was something he'd overheard in prison. He wouldn't name the person involved, so his testimony can't be given much weight. He wasn't able to say who was responsible for putting the marijuana into her bag and someone has to take responsibility for it.

There was no fingerprinting of the plastic bag.

Schapelle says she's a victim of drug trafficking and we've taken this into consideration because importation of drugs hurts the people of Indonesia.

Considering all of the above there's been a violation of Indonesian law.

The defence hasn't presented a convincing case. They made much out of little things and little things aren't significant things. There's no one who can refute that it was in her bag and that she owned it. The plastic bag had been handled by so many people, even if it had been fingerprinted, the evidence had been contaminated.

Consideration has been given to all of the following: the obligation of the court to find justice on the evidence presented; the actual evidence and not hearsay and allegations; the fact the suspect has never before come before a court; the evidence presented about drug trafficking and the fact that the drugs were brought into a prohibited customs area.

It's been proven that illegally imported drugs have been brought into Indonesia.

Verdict: 20 years

Suspect has till next Wednesday to accept the verdict or appeal.

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