Schapelle Corby's TV appearance sparks backlash

MICHAEL BACHELARD
Last updated 18:25 03/03/2014
Schapelle Corby pictured in a Sunday Night exclusive
Seven Network
TESTING BOUNDARIES: Footage of Schapelle Corby was shown at various stages during an interview on Australia's Seven network, though the words were left mainly to her sister.

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Pressure is building in Indonesia for Schapelle Corby to have her parole revoked after Indonesia's deputy justice minister said she may have been "sneaking around the law" in her appearance on Australia's Seven Network on Sunday.

The Corby family and Seven producers believed they would not be in breach of the Indonesian law if the Sunday Night exclusive did not include an interview with Corby herself.

But Nasir Jamil, a member of Komisi III, the parliament's justice and human rights committee, said Mercedes Corby doing the interview was "basically the same thing".

On the respected Metro TV program Morning Talk, justice and human rights deputy minister Denny Indrayana said another guest had made a "very good point" in saying the family had appeared to skirt around the prohibition on the convicted drug smuggler giving an interview.

"They sought permission to do the interview and we said 'no'. Now, if they are doing it through the sister, we'll have to see if that actually breaches her parole conditions," Mr Denny said.

His department would carefully review the Sunday Night program to see if it caused "restlessness" in the community.

He said the restlessness clause in Corby's parole conditions gave the government wide discretion and the "opportunity to review" a parolee's behaviour outside prison.

However, he also cited Corby's right to free speech.

"I can't give a full answer until I've seen the whole thing, but we will see if it's [evading the ruling] or it is her exercising her freedom of speech ... we have to evaluate it to see if there is a precedent ... and so we have a strong foundation for a decision."

Mr Denny said the three things that were of potential concern were the subject of the interview, whether Corby was paid for it, and whether the family had disregarded the clear instructions of the Indonesian government not to do an interview.

On the money issue, both the Corby family and the Seven Network have repeatedly denied that there has been, or would be, any payment for the program.

The subject matter that has caused most distress so far was the declaration by Mercedes that her sister was innocent, and that the marijuana found in the boogie board bag back in 2004 "could have been from Indonesia".

Mr Nasir, a member of the strongly Muslim PKS party, argued that the interview with Mercedes, and the program more broadly, had created the impression that "Indonesian law is for sale, that you can buy it".

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"The community can see how the family has tried to sneak around the law. We want the government to be stern and confirm what is actually the criteria of causing restlessness. This is a country based on the rule of law, so we need to be strict and stern," Mr Nasir said.

University of Indonesia Law Professor Hikmahanto Juwana said the interview with Mercedes was designed to "drive opinion back towards Schapelle's innocence".

"Now in Australia it's divided, so it's to build back that old opinion that she's innocent."

The program showed a good deal of footage of Corby taken on the day of her release, and another shot of a sunset beach swim.

The interview with Mercedes rejected the suggestion that her late father and her own family had been involved in marijuana smuggling.

The program also concentrated heavily on Corby's "fragile" mental health.

- FFX Aus

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