Indonesian officials have approved Schapelle Corby’s parole, opening the way for her to walk out of Kerobokan prison for the first time in over nine years.
It is unclear whether the official documents must be delivered to the prison in hard copy before she can be released into the care of her sister, Mercedes, but there was speculation on Friday night that the orders may have been faxed to the prison and the release could be as early as Monday.
On one version of events, she would leave wearing full Muslim head coverings in the dark.
The first thing Corby will confront will be media attention of the kind she has spent much of the past nine years avoiding by hiding in her cell and avoiding the prison’s open visiting yard.
A throng of local and Australian media has gathered in Kerobokan to document the release of a prisoner whose story became sensation, and to try to catch early glimpses of her post-prison life.
Dr Syamsuddin made an ambiguous announcement at his Jakarta office late Friday that her case had been “processed”. But a written statement released at the time clarified that the Australian prisoner had fulfilled all requirements for parole.
“She has fulfilled all the substantive administrative requirements as stated in the regulations,” the press statement said.
Asked about the parliamentarians who said Corby should not be granted parole, Dr Syamsuddin said Indonesia was a sovereign country “based on law”.
“We are not seeking popularity, we just follow the rules, we uphold the law. Parole is not a gift from the state, it’s a process a convict can apply as long as he or a he meets the conditions”.
She must live in Bali, behave and dress respectfully when visited by corrections officials, and check in with the Bali corrections bureau monthly.
To guard against a perception in Indonesia that Corby has been given special treatment because of pressure by the Australian government, Dr Syamsuddin has been at pains to say that her file was treated the same way as 1798 other parole applications on his desk.
Corby’s parole application is testament to her desperation to be out of prison at almost any cost.
Under her parole conditions, she will not be able to return to her Gold Coast home until July 2017. If she had stayed in prison she could have been entirely free and ready to return to Australia almost two years earlier – August 2015.
This is because, in the Indonesian system, a parolee misses out on remissions for good behaviour, and must also serve an extra 12 months of “guidance” to make sure they will be of good behaviour in future.
But Corby has been miserable for years inside the small, crowded concrete cell in the women’s block, and after at one point being diagnosed with strong anti-psychotic medication, often behaves erratically.
On her release, she has said she will live in Mercedes house.
However, Ketut Artha, the head of the Bali’s correction bureau, which will supervise her parole, has confirmed to Fairfax Media that, as long as his organisation knows where she is, she could live anywhere in Bali.
If she wants to leave Bali, but stay within Indonesia, she would need approval from justice minister Amir. “But if it’s within Bali island and Bapas are made of aware of where she is, it is fine,” he said.
The decision is potentially politically contrtoversial in Indonesia, with parliamentarians having flagged an anti-Corby campaign in an election year. MPs said on Thursday that the government was being “inconsistent” in trying to eradicate the drug trade “where the political decision doesn’t support the law enforcement”.
But though the release may offend some politicians, it is unlikely to have much public bite. Corby is known as the “Ganja Queen” but is not as big a public figure in Indonesia as in Australia.