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Australia welcomes Corby parole, urges privacy

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday welcomed the decision by Indonesia to parole drug trafficker Schapelle Corby and called for her privacy to be respected.

SYDNEY: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday welcomed the decision by Indonesia to parole drug trafficker Schapelle Corby and called for her privacy to be respected.

The 36-year-old, whose incarceration has fascinated the Australian public, was granted parole on Friday in Bali, where she was convicted and jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to smuggle marijuana into the tourist island.

"The decision by Indonesia's minister for law and human rights is welcomed," said Bishop. Canberra had supported the parole application since it was lodged in October 2012.

"I understand that now the decision to grant parole has been made, it is a matter for the authorities to determine the time of the release but I hope that she's now given some privacy as she gets her life back together," she added.

This appears unlikely with her case attracting huge media attention and public scrutiny in Australia ever since she was sentenced and a million dollar bidding war now underway for her first post-jail interview.

Corby's well-documented mental illness, steadfast proclamation of innocence and fight to be freed from the notorious Kerobokan prison earned her sympathy in Australia.

But the view in Indonesia is starkly different, where many see her as a common criminal who simply broke the country's tough anti-drugs laws.

In an editorial on Saturday, the Indonesian language daily Media Indonesia labelled the beauty school dropout "the Marijuana Queen".

"Any tolerance shown through leniency or granting parole is a deplorable act," it said.

Alexander Downer, who was Australian foreign minister at the time of Corby's jailing, said her family and supporters need to maintain a "level head" after her release.

"The wisest thing to do here -- and I hope wisdom will prevail -- is just to accept what's happened," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"There's nothing that can be done about the past -- and perhaps she was guilty, perhaps she wasn't, we don't know -- but move on and rebuild her life from here. She's got plenty of time to do that."

While Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin approved the parole application, Kerobokan governor Farid Junaid said she would not be released until Monday at the earliest due to procedural formalities.

In any case, Corby will not be able to return to Australia immediately. Instead, she will have to remain in Indonesia until 2017 when her sentence would be complete, as part of her parole conditions.

She is expected to stay with her sister Mercedes, who lives on Bali, down a tiny lane in the tourist strip of Kuta.

Mercedes has previously said Schapelle will work with her designing bikinis for her husband's surf shop, Kuta Boardroom, not far from their home.

Nyoman Jika, one of the village leaders where the house is situated, said he would welcome the drug mule into the community.

"As long as she doesn't get involved in criminal activities, we don't have any problems welcoming Schapelle into our community," said Jika, who provided a letter of support for Corby during her application process.

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