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Australian trafficker takes key step in Indonesia parole bid

An application by Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby for parole from an Indonesian jail was heard last week in private, an official said on Monday, a key step in her bid for early release.

JAKARTA: An application by Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby for parole from an Indonesian jail was heard last week in private, an official said on Monday, a key step in her bid for early release.

Authorities in the capital Jakarta heard her case on Thursday, said prisons spokesman Akbar Hadi Prabowo, although he refused to reveal the result.

"The decision is now in the hands of the justice minister," added justice ministry spokeswoman Ika Yusanti.

Corby, who is in prison on the resort island of Bali, was not present at the hearing.

The hearing is expected to be the key factor in the possible early release of Corby, who was jailed in 2005 after being caught smuggling marijuana into Bali.

While Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has the final say, he has previously said he does not oppose granting Corby parole.

Authorities on Bali have already recommended the 36-year-old's early release but her parole bid has for months been bogged down in bureaucratic wrangling.

However it received a boost when Indonesian authorities granted a French drug smuggler an early release last month. Michael Blanc is one of the few foreigners to have been freed on parole in recent years.

Corby's case has attracted huge publicity in Australia, and in March last year the then-foreign minister Bob Carr offered Jakarta a formal guarantee that she would comply with her parole conditions.

Corby was caught trying to smuggle 4.1 kilogrammes of marijuana into Bali but has always maintained her innocence.

She was originally given 20 years but has received several remissions and a sentence cut of five years from the president after she filed an appeal for clemency.

If granted parole, Corby would still be bound to live on Bali and obliged to report regularly to authorities. She would live with her sister.

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