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Double blow for Corby

20jan06

GOLD Coast drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has lost her final appeal and had her initial sentence of 20 years' imprisonment reinstated.


Indonesia's highest court – the Supreme Court in Jakarta – also ordered the evidence destroyed, signalling that the case was now closed.

The decision was made a week ago by the Supreme Court but had yet to be relayed to Bali or be made public, sources in Jakarta said.

Corby's sentence had been reduced to 15 years after she appealed to the Denpasar High Court in Bali.

But the prosecution appealed to Jakarta, and the Supreme Court decision declares Corby "legally and convincingly proven to be guilty of committing the crime of importing narcotic, class one".

It reinstates the 20-year jail term with a $14,000 fine, or a further six months' jail if the fine cannot be paid.

Corby, 28, was arrested at Denpasar Airport in October 2004 with 4.1kg of marijuana in a boogie board bag after flying from Australia.

The bag was unlocked from the time she checked in at Brisbane Airport to the time she arrived in Bali.

She claimed not to know about the drugs, and defence lawyers said she was the victim of a drug-running network possibly involving Australian airport staff.

The Supreme Court document declares that the evidence – the boogie board bag and drugs – should be destroyed.

The Supreme Court news will be a double blow to Corby after her half-brother James Kisina, 18, appeared in court at Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, yesterday on drugs charges.

Kisina was on the plane with Corby on the day she flew to Bali, and had been carrying the boogie board bag before the arrest.

News of Kisina's arrest broke in Bali before the decision on Corby's appeal was known. Initially, some members of Corby's legal team had speculated her brother's arrest might be used to restate the argument that the drugs were not hers.

Corby's Bali-based lawyer Erwin Siregar said: "If there is a sentence to say that James is guilty in this case and if there is an affidavit from James to say that the boogie board bag belongs to James, of course I will use this evidence."

But before her lawyers could begin consideration of what the arrest might mean for Corby, the Supreme Court's decision was confirmed. It was not known if Corby had been told last night of the court's ruling. Her sister Mercedes, who lives in Bali, could not be contacted.

Supreme Court Judge Made Tara, one of three judges to make the final sentencing decision, declined to comment on the reasons behind the ruling.

While the Supreme Court confirmed the appeal decision was on its way to Bali, Corby's legal team had no knowledge of it.

Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu said he had not been informed of the Supreme Court decision.

But he said if the court had decided to increase the sentence back to 20 years he would be relatively happy, although he still believed she deserved a life sentence.

Another group of young Australians facing the Balinese court system will have to wait longer than expected to learn of their fate.

Sentence submissions on Brisbane men Scott Rush and Michael Czugaj, both 19, and Newcastle woman Renae Lawrence, 27 – all accused of attempting to smuggle heroin out of Denpasar – were to have been made this week.

But the submissions, in which prosecutors may ask for the death penalty, have been delayed until next week.



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