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Indonesia's president to rule on clemency for Corby
Adam Harvey reported this story on Thursday, April 5, 2012 12:22:00
ELEANOR HALL: Convicted drugs smuggler Schapelle Corby could soon be released from jail in Bali - if Indonesia's president acts on a recommendation from his country's Justice Ministry.It is rare for Indonesian authorities to grant clemency to drugs traffickers and even more unusual for those who have not admitted their guilt. But an expert in Indonesia's legal system says whatever Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decides it will have a major impact on the fate of the two Australians who are on Indonesia's death row.Adam Harvey has our report.ADAM HARVEY: It's been almost eight years since Schapelle Corby was caught at Bali's Denpasar Airport with over 4 kilos of marijuana hidden in her bodyboard bag.She was jailed for 20 years but she could be home a lot sooner than that, if Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono acts on a new recommendation from officials that she be granted clemency.Director of the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne, Professor Tim Lindsey, says the president has the power to send her home but he'd be setting a precedent. TIM LINDSEY: It would be very unusual in Indonesia for a sentence reduction to be given to a prisoner without an acknowledgement of guilt.ADAM HARVEY: Are you aware of any case where a prisoner has had their sentence reduced when they have not pled guilty?TIM LINDSEY: I'm not aware. There may be cases of it but it would be very unusual. ADAM HARVEY: The recommendation from Indonesia's Department of Justice follows the apparent deterioration of Schapelle Corby's state of mind while in Bali's Kerobokan Prison. TIM LINDSEY: Generally applications for clemency of that kind are based on matters relating to the individual prisoner's well-being for example health, advanced age, or particular family matters outside prison so there is nothing all that unusual in Corby's case about seeking a sentence reduction on the grounds of health. In this case her grounds of health happen to be apparently mental ill-health. I'm not aware of the number of applications that are made on the basis of mental ill-health but ill-health generally is quite a common ground for these applications. ADAM HARVEY: Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says it has been lobbying for Corby's release.STATEMENT FROM AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (voiceover): The Australian Government has made clear to Indonesia that we support Ms Corby's clemency application. The decision to grant clemency or not is for the president of Indonesia. We understand other organs of the Indonesian government including the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights may make recommendations to the president on Ms Corby's clemency application. As such recommendations have not been released officially. We cannot comment on communications within the Indonesian government. ADAM HARVEY: But Professor Tim Lindsey says government pressure and media attention wouldn't normally be enough to swing things her way.TIM LINDSEY: Yeah, there is certainly pressure there but that sort of pressure alone is not likely to result in major changes to a prisoner's status, a foreign prisoner's status in fact it has to be done very cautiously because excessive pressure and excessive demands made on government in Indonesia can actually backfire.ADAM HARVEY: Professor Lindsey says president Yudhoyono will be in no rush to make a decision but when he does, it will be seen as crucial to the fate of two other Australians who have even more at stake than Schapelle Corby.TIM LINDSEY: Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan who of course are facing the death penalty, they've exhausted their judicial appeal options and the last remaining step that might save them from the firing squad will be an application for clemency for them. The question of when such an application should be made and how it will proceed will doubtless be influenced by whatever decision is made in the Corby case. ELEANOR HALL: That is the University of Melbourne's Professor Tim Lindsey ending that report from Adam Harvey.