April 04, 2012
Not coping ... Schapelle Corby. Photo: Jason South
Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby is a step closer to winning her freedom after Indonesia's Justice Ministry confirmed it had recommended she be granted clemency and an early release.
The development comes two years after Corby first launched her bid for clemency.
Corby, 34, is suffering from mental illness and struggling to cope with life inside Bali's notorious Kerobokan jail.
She was jailed for 20 years in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in a bodyboard bag.
While details of the recommendation from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry have only just emerged, a senior official confirmed the final report was handed to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono some months ago.
The ministry has recommended a major cut in Corby's sentence based on humanitarian grounds.
"Our office agreed with her clemency. We recommended granting it," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AAP.
"Basically the decision was made based on humanitarian considerations," he said.
The recommendation also includes an approval for clemency from the director-general of prisons.
It is understood to be in line with the opinion of a Supreme Court judge who considered Corby's clemency application and delivered an opinion to the President's office in July 2010, recommending her sentence be halved.
If Corby is granted clemency, and a sentence cut of 10 years, she would be eligible for release in 2014 - the same year Dr Yudhoyono will leave office.
However, successful clemency applications usually require prisoners to admit guilt, which Corby has not done.
Dr Yudhoyono's decision will be based on the recommendation from the Justice Ministry, as well as advice from the Attorney-General's Department, Foreign Ministry and National Narcotics Board, which he sought in 2010 after Corby lodged her application.
A source in the office of the State Secretariat, which handles the President's administrative affairs including clemency applications, confirmed Corby's case was now awaiting a final decision.
"As for Corby, it's still in the President's hands," she said.
"To my knowledge, it has not yet been decided. But we haven't been asked to approach any of the institutions for their opinions again."
She also confirmed that humanitarian considerations were the chief factor in the Corby case.
The clemency application was first lodged in March 2010, appealing for an early release on the grounds that Corby was suffering from mental illness that could endanger her life.
It is understood she is still being treated with anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs.
Her lawyer, Iskandar Nawing, said he had been told of the crucial recommendation from the Justice Ministry.
"Hopefully this clemency decision will be made by the President very soon," Mr Nawing said today.
"It's my understanding that there's a time limit in law on how long the President has to consider a clemency request.
"If this clemency is to be granted, it will be a breakthrough," Mr Nawing said.