Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby leaves Bali to return home after 13 years

Corby was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 after being caught with several kilos of marijuana stuffed in her surfing gear

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 10:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 10:32pm

Australian Schapelle Corby battled through a media scrum on Saturday as she left a Bali villa to head home 12 years after being convicted of drug trafficking on the holiday island, a long-awaited return that has captivated public attention.

The beauty school dropout covered her face with a scarf as she was bustled out of her home on the Indonesian resort island, amid heavy security as a huge pack of Australian and international journalists jostled to get a shot of her.

The 39-year-old, who was arrested in 2004 at Bali airport, was bundled into a car with tinted windows and sped off in a convoy that included armoured vehicles through narrow streets as curious onlookers gawped at the spectacle.

After signing documents at a government office, her convoy raced towards the airport, from where she was to depart on a flight to Brisbane.

“Good bye to this parole paper work,” she posted under a picture of the documents on an Instagram account, which had attracted over 35,000 followers within a few hours of being set up.

Corby was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 after being caught with several kilos of marijuana stuffed in her surfing gear. She was released in 2014 but was required to remain on Bali another three years under the conditions of her parole, and now has to leave.

Her story has fascinated the Australian public like few others in recent times. Her steadfast proclamations of innocence and well-documented fight with mental illness in prison generated much sympathy in Australia, where she was often depicted as the victim of a conspiracy.

The view of her case is starkly different in Indonesia, where many see Corby as a common criminal who simply broke the country’s tough anti-drugs laws.

Australian media have flown into Bali en masse and camped out outside Corby’s Bali villa for the past few days, and hundreds of police officers have been deployed for her departure.

We will pray for her that she will repent, God wants humans to return to the right path
Bali corrections chief Surung Pasarib

Bali corrections chief Surung Pasaribu said the Australian consulate on the island had requested help to ensure her departure was smooth, which he said was “normal”.

“We will protect her,” he said. “We will pray for her that she will repent, God wants humans to return to the right path.”

The Australian interest in Corby, which began with her arrest, intensified into an obsession during her trial.

The dramatic courtroom scenes of her breaking down in tears as she was convicted and her sister Mercedes screaming from the sidelines were watched live by millions of Australians.

The media have closely tracked her case, from the sordid conditions in Bali’s Kerobokan jail – where prisoners live in cramped, filthy cells and drug abuse is widespread – to her struggles with mental illness.

The end of her sentence was brought forward after she received several remissions for good behaviour, and a five-year cut following an appeal to clemency to the Indonesian president.

Indonesia, which has some of the world’s toughest anti-narcotics laws, has stepped up its campaign against drug use since Corby was jailed.

Two Australians were put to death alongside six other foreigners and one Indonesian in April 2015 for drug smuggling, sparking a serious diplomatic row between Jakarta and Canberra.