Blow to Corby early release hopes

AAP November 14, 2012, 2:08 pm

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby's bid for early release from Bali's notorious Kerobokan jail is on hold indefinitely as Indonesian authorities move to close a loophole that may have allowed her to return to Australia if granted parole.

The development is a massive blow to Corby, who is already eligible to apply for parole, after being granted a further sentence remission in August, which followed a five-year cut to her 20-year prison term in May.

Immigration laws introduced last year did not include visa provisions for foreign prisoners released on parole, creating a loophole which meant they would either be placed in immigration detention or deported.

It meant Corby may have been able to return to Australia on being granted parole.

But any hopes she had of tasting freedom before the end of the year have now been completely dashed with parole applications suspended as the regulations are reviewed.

It is likely to take months before the conflict between the new immigration laws and the parole regulations are sorted out.

A senior official with the office of the director-general of prisons has confirmed that parole applications for all foreign prisoners have been suspended.

“In the new immigration law a foreign citizen who is undergoing legal process or serving sentences is not able to be given a visa,” director for prison training and service Rahmat Prio Sutarjo told AAP.

“If a foreign citizen (does not have a) stay permit, then he or she has to go to (an) immigration detention centre.”

“This is not a parole situation any more because it's still detention.

“Submission of a parole request for foreign prisoners is postponed.”

The review will pave the way for foreign prisoners who are granted parole to be provided with documentation from Indonesia's department of immigration that would be similar to a visa.

It means foreign prisoners granted parole, including Corby, would have to serve out the period of early release in Indonesia.

“With that permit, the prisoner can be released from jail (on parole) and work among the society. But the prisoner would still be banned from travelling aboard until sentence is complete,” Mr Sutarjo said.

Corby's lawyer, Iskander Nawing, confirmed that the 35-year-old's parole application could not be submitted until the situation was resolved.

“We're still waiting for the immigration department to be at one with prison authority,” he said.

“There's still contradiction between ministerial regulation on parole and new immigration law. I hope it would be revised immediately.

“Once it's revised, we will submit our parole request.”

Corby was arrested in 2004 attempting to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in a bodyboard bag.

She was granted clemency by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in May on humanitarian grounds, after claiming she was suffering from a mental illness that could endanger her life.

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