Schapelle Corby is a 34 year old Australian woman who has been imprisoned on the island of Bali since 2004. In October of that year she was arrested by Bali customs agents when it was discovered there was over 9 pounds of marijuana in a large 'boogie-board' bag she had brought with her from Australia. She claimed at the time that the bag was hers but had no knowledge of the marijuana being in her bag. She was arrested and charged with attempting to smuggle the drug into Bali. The following year (2005) she was convicted by an Indonesian court and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Corby has always maintained that the marijuana was not hers and that it must have been planted in her bag without her knowledge. Although that claim may appear a bit lame to some people- it should be taken into consideration that such things do happen. Unsuspecting travelers have been used before by drug dealers to get their goods through customs and then retrieve the drugs later when it is safe to do so. It should be pointed out that the Indonesian court did not 'prove' that Corby was responsible for the marijuana. She was convicted solely on the fact that it was found in a bag belonging to her, and no evidence could be presented that 'proved' the marijuana was planted by someone else. As they say in the U.S. : Possession in 9/10th of the law.
The main purpose of this forum however, is not to prove the innocence or guilt of Schapelle Corby (although I am sure attempts will be forthcoming). Rather, it is the fact that her sentence was so harsh, considering Corby was not a known drug dealer and had no prior convictions in Bali or Australia. Also there is ample evidence that Schapelle Corby's mental and emotional health has been declining for the last several years in prison. She was hospitalized for severe depression in 2008 and 2009, and has been on anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs for some time now. A prison sentence is never meant to destroy a person, yet some people decline rapidly in such an environment, with some eventually losing their grip on reality.
In 2010 Corby appealed to the president of Indonesia for clemency. The Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Ministry also recommended that Schapelle Corby be granted clemency on humanitarian grounds. This is now in the hands of the Indonesian president who has the final say in the matter. It is my hope that Dr. Yudhoyono will show mercy to Schapelle Corby (who is now in declining health) and grant her outright release, or at the very least, greatly reduce her sentence. After Corby serving 8 years in a foreign prison, this is not a 'get out of jail free' card, 8 years is not a drop in the bucket; releasing her is simply the humanitarian thing to do.
One should remember that if Schapelle Corby is indeed innocent, then this is truly a nightmare that needs to be remedied. It is something that can happen to any traveler- anywhere in the world, and in the future it may be you, or may be me. Yet innocence or guilt aside- Corby's situation is one that calls for compassion. Those with empathy need no proof of this, and the cold-hearted will always turn away with indifference.