Saturday, 2 May 2009

SC – Indonesian Justice – The Misnomer

Schapelle Corby – Indonesian Justice – The Misnomer
By Bali BS News
Jul 27, 2005, 02:51

The poor Balinese people not only have to endure one of the most corrupt police organizations and judiciary in the world, but they also bear the brunt of the fallout from overseas by token of yet further diminished tourism to their island. So they suffer persecution and Newtonian poverty.

Recently the case of alleged drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has been debated by the media and members of travel communities alike, and with equal zeal; Quite often just emotional banter between two groups so clearly hypnotized by their own clear agendas. Debating whether Ms. Corby, an Australian beauty therapist, was dopey enough or not of attempting to bring over 4 kilos of dope (sorry) into Bali. Such debate showing people shamelessly willing to act as judge and jury; Quite a literal parody really, as no jury decided Ms. Corby’s actual fate. But while the real point was lost or rather drowned out on the Internet, it is quite clear the silent majority understand the issue and have voted with their absentia, from Bali.

The issue, if only the poor Balinese and Baliphiles were to wake up to the fact, is not whether Ms. Corby is innocent or guilty. It is whether she was entitled to a fair police investigation, a subsequent fair trial and, if guilty, decent treatment in jail; If so, whether she received these or not. The answers seem very clear and do not bode well for Indonesia, or those that promote Bali as a safe, civilized tourist destination. It seems quite clear that Schapelle Corby was neither afforded a fair investigation nor a lawful trial. Worse still are the credible reports that the judges who convicted her are prepared to quash her conviction in return for corruption money, and that prison guards had allowed whoever to come in and photograph Ms. Corby behind bars for just a few dollars.

First, by way of background, let us point out the perceived and very unsavory nature of Indonesian police officers, working as they do for one of the most corrupt police forces in the world and frequently being chastised for it. It is fairly widely reported that street drug dealers in Bali work with police officers in order to enjoy immunity. By “work with” we mean informing their police officer pimp (sponsor and protector) when a tourist makes a drug purchase, so the police officer can then extort money from the hapless drug user. It is not just the police that have such a bad reputation, but lawyers, judges, customs officers; In fact all so called Indonesian “public servants”. So to avoid any possible question of police involvement (in planting the drugs on Ms. Corby) or other irregularity, the customs and police officers needed to act in an exemplary manner in the SC investigation.

Far from practicing the utmost professionalism and due diligence in the performance of their stated duties, the police officers involved handled the evidence (the packages of drugs) destroying any chance of finger print evidence that might have proved Ms. Corby’s innocence. In most other countries it seems clear just this fact alone would have made the evidence inadmissible, so no trial could then proceed. Even the chief detective in charge of the SC investigation stated he was not sure that the trial could proceed; But it did, so why?

During the trial, the judges gave clear evidence they had unlawfully revoked Ms. Corby’s legal right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, when the prosecution asked for a sentence of life imprisonment even before the judges had concluded the trial and when the judges informed the defense team that they had not done enough to prove Ms. Corby’s innocence. Many people feel there is no interpretation in that statement or the premature sentence request; the judges had decided in advance that they would be handing down a conviction. This conjecture also seems to be supported by the fact the judges refused to allow certain evidence to be presented in court, such as a statement from Australian airport authorities that Ms. Corby’s bag would have passed through a scanner which we understand would have detected the drug under the conditions (the drugs were “found” in an unlocked body board bag).

Many people believe this was all the work of a drug smuggling operation by baggage handlers in Australia, which went wrong. So what! This just seems to be diluting the important issues regarding this case with highly speculative conjecture. The question must surely be; should Schapelle Corby have stood trial in the first place? After all, a byproduct of presumption of innocence until proven guilty is the premise of burden of proof. It was up to the police and prosecutors to prove Ms. Corby guilty. But if the drugs should not have been used as evidence after being so seriously compromised by Balinese police officers, then from where comes the guilt? It seems from the judges of course. Even Ms. Corby’s defense team had lawyers within it who have been openly challenged as being unqualified and duplicitous. So this was a fair trial?

The final nail in the coffin for any possible claim as to the legality of the trial seems to have been hammered home by a senior Australian lawyer, Mark Trowell; one of two QC’s now retained by the Australian Government to coordinate Ms. Corby’s appeal. This respected lawyer claims he was approached by Ms. Corby’s now former defense team for 500,000 Australian dollars to pay the judges to change their minds. Ms. Corby’s former lawyers in return claimed they had requested the money for public relations advertising to sway public opinion, on the basis that this may swing the judges! So which account should we believe? That the judges, as members of a judiciary which is widely reported as being corrupt, who convicted Ms. Corby, would be willing to take half a million dollars from questionable Balinese lawyers to change their minds. Or perhaps that the former defense lawyers were going to run a series of adverts on local TV, maybe in between soap operas, in the hope this would sway public opinion and with it the minds of the judges!

Added to the disgrace for residents of and visitors to Bali comes reports that jailers allowed anyone and everyone who wanted to see Ms. Corby, even to take pictures, in return for some money.

It seems Ms. Corby has the right not only to have her conviction quashed, but to massive civil and human rights compensation as well. That is not because we think she is innocent, nor do we think she is guilty. We just believe the Indonesian judiciary needs to apply their legal premise of innocent until proven guilty without exception, and accept the investigation and subsequent trial were at best, too seriously flawed to be lawful. As for reports about Ms. Corby being photographed behind bars for a few dollars of corruption money, this just adds salt into the wound as far as the poor Balinese and tourists generally are concerned.

Bali will likely suffer for some time as a result of the Schapelle Corby case, there is no doubt despite what the spin merchanst put out; you only have to visit the travel forums to see that. But will Bali realize it under the sea of “Corby is guilty / innocent” opinion and false "tourism is not affected" spin? And will the Indonesian government wake up to the fact that the days of their judges, lawyers and police officers being able to work above the law with impunity are gone in this ever shrinking world of communication?

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