Australia offers Indonesia Corby parole guarantees

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia on Sunday said it had offered Indonesia a formal guarantee that drug trafficker Schapelle Corby would comply with parole in a letter supporting her release from prison.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Australia had written to the governor of Kerobokan jail, where Corby has been imprisoned on marijuana smuggling offences since 2005, in formal support of her parole.

"We've advised Indonesian authorities the Australian government supports the granting of parole to Ms Corby," Mr Carr said.

"This letter of guarantee, backed by strict reporting requirements, is necessary in order for the parole application to proceed."

Mr Carr said Ms Corby would be required to report regularly to Australian consular officials on the holiday island of Bali and keep them updated on her whereabouts. Ms Corby's sister, Mercedes, lives in Bali.

Indonesian officials would retain her passport and any other travel documents.

Mr Carr said the guarantees would not mean Ms Corby was automatically offered parole, but it was an important step forward in her bid for release.

"Ms Corby was convicted and sentenced in accordance with Indonesian law," said Mr Carr.

"However, most Australians would agree she has served a substantial term in jail and deserves the chance to plead her case before parole authorities."

Ms Corby received a 20-year jail sentence in 2005 for smuggling 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana into Bali, but she had five years shaved from her term last year following a clemency appeal as well as several remissions for good behaviour.

She was eligible for parole in September under Indonesian law.

Mr Carr said 16 foreigners had been paroled in Indonesia, but none yet in Bali.

Australia was also pressing a prisoner transfer agreement with Jakarta, he added, in the hope that Corby could serve out her parole back home.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, including life imprisonment and death.

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