Corby stressed by media
MICHAEL BACHELARD, JAMES ROBERTSON AND GABRIELLE DUNLEVY
Mercedes Corby has agreed that her sister Schapelle will not do a paid TV interview ‘‘for the time being’’, after the Indonesian justice department threatened to put her back in prison if she did.
But the family has refused to move from the luxurious Villa Sentosa Seminyak, where they have been since Schapelle’s release from prison on Monday, saying Corby is too nervous of the media pack waiting out the front.
Three members of the Bali Parole Board visited the Corby compound on Friday afternoon to advise the family not to do a planned interview with the Seven Network’s Mike Willesee because it might ‘‘cause restlessness in the community,’’ according to spokeswoman Ketut Sukiati.
Wayan Widyartha, Corby’s brother-in-law and the guarantor of her good behaviour, had told Ketut that, ‘‘they would not do the interview for the time being’’, she said.
The family did not know how long they planned to hold off.
Ketut said Corby was in the room throughout the meeting, but apart from her initial greeting, only nodded occasionally and said, ‘‘Yes’’. Mercedes and Wayan did the talking.
One of Corby’s parole conditions is to speak respectfully to officials.
Ketut said Corby had seemed ‘‘a lot more fit than on other visits’’. She attributed this to the afternoon timing; on the morning visit earlier this week, she had been groggy from her medication, Ketut said.
Indonesian sensitivities have been insulted by Corby’s residence in a luxury villa, but Wayan said the group would not yet leave it to go back to the address listed in her parole documents — his family compound in Kuta.
Wayan reportedly said Corby wanted to go home as quickly as possible, but that the encampment of Australian (and sometimes Indonesian) journalists, waiting in a hotel cafe outside the compound, were ‘‘causing all the problems’’.
‘‘She wants to go home immediately but she’s stressed because of all the media attention. She feels like she’s chained,’’ Ketut said. ‘‘She’s out free, even though with conditions, but she can’t go anywhere, and it’s stressing her more’’.
She would leave the Sentosa villas only when the media stop ‘‘hounding her’’.
‘‘We don’t know until when she will be there. But how can she go home if media keep chasing her? The other people at the home [Wayan’s home], and the neighbours, it will cause problems if she goes home,’’ Ketut said.
Inside the villa complex is a Seven Network media team led by senior journalist Mike Willesee, who were invited by the Corby family and who are planning to pay for an exclusive interview with the drug smuggler.
A camera crew from that team joined the travelling media outside the complex for an hour or more on Friday to film comings and goings.
Ketut said she knew nothing about that team.
Earlier on Friday, Willesee had been clinging defiantly to the idea that he could do his paid interview with Schapelle Corby.
The Schapelle Corby circus has this week gone from full-blown hoopla to a delicate tightrope act.
One of Australia's most famous ex-cons, Corby has been living in the lap of luxury since being paroled from her cramped Bali jail cell on Monday.
It was, as the headline on her former local paper The Courier-Mail called it, a ''freak show''.
Her face draped in fabric to protect her exclusive deal, Corby was mobbed, then tailed, by an armada of cameramen on motorbikes as she made her way from the jail.
The media at first camped outside the Petitenget spa where she's staying, but now, the bulk have moved on.
Even if audiences were still interested, with the Corbys in lockdown, there would be little to report anyway.
Presumably, the Seven Network is footing the bill for Corby and her entourage to stay hidden in the complex.
According to Willesee, they're giving Corby time to adjust to life outside after nine years.
But as they gently woo the 36-year-old, she must also be trying to gauge whether telling her version of events is a good idea at all.
Having spent the past nine years insisting she was innocent of smuggling 4.2kg of cannabis into Bali, she is unlikely to change her story now.
The 36-year-old must be wondering how much she can say about her ordeal in Kerobokan jail without being hauled back there.
Mid-week, parole authorities began debating too whether the interview was wise, particularly if Corby used it as a platform to be critical of the justice system.
Head of the Bali parole board, Ketut Artha, hinted there could be some topics that would be ''fatal'' to her parole.
But corrections official Sunar Agus believed it was ''her right'' to talk, even if she was critical of Indonesia's laws.
On Thursday, Mercedes Corby released a statement in English and imperfect Indonesian to allay concerns in both countries about the rumoured A$3 million (NZ$3.3m) deal.
''The sums being reported are ridiculous,'' she said, adding that Corby would first flag any interview with parole officers.
But by Thursday night, the tell-all talk looked in serious doubt.
The deputy to the minister who granted Corby's parole, Denny Indrayana, said they could just as easily take it back if there was a breach of the conditions.
Among them is a clause that says Corby won't disturb the public peace, and in the view of the minister, an interview is likely to overstep the mark.
On Corby's possible windfall, Australians and Indonesians are united.
In Australia, a News Corp poll of almost 60,000 readers this week found 84.82 per cent didn't want Corby to be paid for any interviews.
The situation has also caused internal friction at Seven, from Sunrise anchor David Koch down to staff who can't get management to buy a new sandwich press for the lunch room.
Polls also show how the ongoing Corby circus has made people cynical.
In June 2005, less than a week after the guilty verdict, 51 per cent of Australians believed Corby was not guilty, a Morgan poll found.
By August 2010, only one in 10 respondents believed Corby was innocent when polled by Nielsen.
In Indonesia, people are mystified about why so much money and attention would be spent on a woman who was convicted of a serious crime.
Outside Kerobokan prison last week, some local reporters awaiting news of Corby's parole were pulled aside by a visitor wondering what could inspire such a huge fuss.
When told they were waiting for Corby, the bewildered reply came: ''Who is Corby?''
The reporters erupted in laughter.
If Corby is stopped from telling her side of the story, we'll have to wait until 2017 to find out, when her reduced sentence would have ended.
That is, if we still care by then.
- Sydney Morning Herald and AAP