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Clemency for drug offender draws harsh criticism   JAKARTA - The decision of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cut the sentence of Australian marijuana smuggler Schapelle Leigh Corby by five years on humanitarian grounds, has drawn harsh criticism at home.

Corby, 34, was caught on October 8, 2004, at Bali`s Ngurah Rai airport when she was attempting to smuggle 4.2 kilogrammes of marijuana upon her arrival from Australia. The District Court in the Bali provincial capital of Denpasar on May 27, 2005, sentenced her to 20 years in jail.

She has been behind bars at the Kerobokan detention centre, Badung District, Bali Province, for over the past seven years. With the clemency, she will have to serve just eight years more.

The head of the Kerobokan detention centre, Gusti Ngurah Wiratna, on Wednesday confirmed the letter of clemency, reportedly signed by the President on May 15, has already arrived at his office and he will soon present it to Corby.

Announcing the clemency decision on Tuesday (May 22), Minister/State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said the decision had been made on the basis of existing process and procedures on clemency.

"We have also asked for consideration from the Supreme Court (MA) chief and cabinet ministers," he said. The Supreme Court had advised responding to Corby`s clemency plea by reducing her sentence.

In a case that captivated public attention in Australia, Corby claimed she did not own the drugs and had been set up. But she was sentenced to 20 years in prison and lost all of her appeals.

Indonesia`s Supreme Court rejected Corby`s request for a case review. In 2010, the Australian national filed for clemency, which can only be granted by the Indonesian President - on the grounds that she was suffering from mental illness.

Sudi stated the decision to reduce Corby`s sentence had also been made with the consideration that Australia would reciprocate in the cases of Indonesian citizens, particularly minors, who were being jailed in Australia.

MA Chief Hatta Ali said he had given some thoughts about Corby`s case. "The clemency is the constitutional right of the President in line with the Constitution, UUD 1945," he noted.

Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsudin, who had also given his consideration to the President, said although Indonesia and Australia had struck no deal concerning the two countries` respective prisoners, the government`s gesture hopefully could be reciprocated by the Australian authorities with the release of Indonesian fishermen.

"They are ordinary people, small traditional fishermen looking for a living," he said. Teuku Faizasyah, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s special staff for international relations, said on Wednesday the clemency was granted on humanitarian grounds.

"The decision, however, has nothing to do with the Indonesian government`s efforts to reduce the sentences of or release Indonesian nationals facing legal cases in Australia," he said.

Faizasyah specifically denied that the five-year reduction in Corby`s sentence was a response to the release of three Indonesians who had been jailed in Australia recently.

Foreign media reported that the three Indonesian youths convicted of trafficking asylum seekers to Australia were freed last week after being given the benefit of the doubt because they were minors at the time of their arrest. About 22 more cases are being reviewed.

"I think it must not be linked. They are separate issues. This is Corby`s issue, and the other issue concerns our people in other countries," Faizasyah said.

"The Australian government has indeed asked President Yudhoyono to reduce Corby`s sentence, but it is normal when two leaders meet they talk about legal cases involving their respective countries` citizens," he explained. "It`s standard practice in international relations," Faizasyah added.

Citing another example, he said President Yudhoyono wrote letters requesting leniency or clemency for Indonesian workers facing legal cases in Middle Eastern countries. Meanwhile, Jakarta Globe quoted an officer of Bali`s Kerobokan prison as saying that Corby might end up serving much less time in the prison, as she had already earned 23 months of remission previously.

The officer, who declined to be named, said, every year Corby could receive up to eight months of remission, including Indonesia`s Independence Day remission, which could be up to six months, and the Christmas Day remission, which was up to two months.

"So, with the five-year sentence cut and all the remissions every year, she may only need to serve 20 more months in prison. So, she can be probably free by September 2013," the officer noted. Despite the government`s explanations, the reduction of Corby`s sentence has created a perception that the government has bowed to Australia`s pressure.

"The Indonesian public know that Australia has been pressurising the Indonesian government for a long time to give protection to Corby," Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert at the University of Indonesia, said in on Wednesday.

According to Juwana, protecting Corby became Australia`s local agenda after the Australian public pressed the Australian government, which in turn put pressure on the Indonesian government to grant her clemency.

"They began the pressure by proposing an agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, until finally the clemency was granted," he explained. To prevent this negative perception, Juwana stressed the Yudhoyono administration must ask Australia to reciprocate by dealing with the legal cases of many Indonesian fishermen who are being jailed without trial.

Other critics slammed the clemency for Corby, saying it hurt the public`s perception of justice, particularly because it concerned the crime of illicit drug trafficking, which is dangerous for the country`s youth.

Former law and human rights minister Prof Yusril Ihza Mahendra said it was for the first time in the country`s history that a President granted clemency to a drug offender. He added such a decision demonstrated that the government was weak and had succumbed to external pressure.

Yusril also criticised the President for flip-flopping on his own policy. "The President issued a Government Regulation in 2006 concerning tighter [clemency] requirements for convicts of corruption, narcotics, terrorism and transnational crimes. And now he has proposed this sentence cut," he said as quoted by the Jakarta Post.

A legislator of the House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission III Kerman Hery has even expressed suspicion that the government was dictated and controlled by Australia, according to Sindo daily.

The Commission III Chairman Nasir Djamil criticized the clemency decision, saying it demonstrated the government`s inconsistency in its fight against illicit drugs.

Related blog entries (category 'Drugs') Related blog entries (category 'Drugs'):
24 May 2012 · Nigerian drug trafficker gets seven year jail sentence
24 May 2012 · Legislator questions Corby clemency
22 May 2012 · President cuts Corby`s sentence by five years
10 May 2012 · Jakarta police confiscate 351 kilograms of meth from China
08 May 2012 · Soekarno-Hatta customs foil smuggled cocaine in anus
03 May 2012 · Jakarta police seized over 30 kg of meth last month

Related blog entries (category 'Drugs') Tags: clemency, protest, questions, legislators, example, bad

Posted in Drugs @ 24 May 2012 15:59 CET by Blog Bot · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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