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Schapelle Corby Narrowly Escaped The Death Penalty, Bali Prosecutor Said

It's been more than 12 years since Schapelle Corby was locked up.

26/05/2017 8:17 AM AEST | Updated 26/05/2017 11:13 AM AEST

Schapelle Corby is due to be deported from Indonesia on Saturday, having served 12.5 years in jail and on parole, but according to the man who prosecuted her, things could have been a lot worse.

The Gold Coast woman was 27 when she was arrested after 4.2kg of marijuana was found in her boogie board bag at Bali's international airport in October 2004. Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantan told News Corp that she was only spared the death penalty because of her young age, and the belief she could turn her life around.

"I felt that Corby can still rehabilitate herself so the death sentence is not the punishment. If she got the death sentence she cannot rehabilitate. But I felt that Corby has the chance to fix herself," Wiswantanu said.

He said the fact Corby was Australian or any concerns about potentially jeopardising Indonesia's relationship with Australia didn't affect the decision-making process.

Jason Childs via Getty Images
Schappelle Corby spent nine years in the notorious Kerobokan jail.

In Indonesia, the death penalty may be imposed on individuals caught trafficking more than 1kg of unprocessed marijuana, and penalties are especially harsh when the offender continues to plead their innocence, as Corby has continued to do.

The Australian went all the way to the High Court in a bid to appeal her original 20-year conviction, but her final appeal was overturned in March 2008, almost four years after she was arrested. In the end, she was granted clemency in 2012 by President Yudhoyono, cutting her sentence by five years and allowing her to be granted parole the following year.

Corby, now 39, has been holed up in her Bali villa for weeks ahead of her deportation, as media crews gather outside hoping to catch sight of Australia's most infamous convicted drug smuggler.

This has meant she has failed to make her monthly report to the Denpasar prosecutor's office -- a condition of her parole.

Chief Denpasar prosecutor Erna Normawati Widodo Putri has warned that if she fails to report by Friday, she will alert the Justice Minister that Corby hasn't complied with her obligations, Fairfax Media reports.

"We are trying for today, if she doesn't come, we will make a report to the Justice Minister that she didn't fulfil her mandatory obligation to report this month," the prosecutor said.

The Australian's failure to appear could jeopardise her expected release on Saturday.

Celebrity bodyguard John McLeod has been employed by the Corby family to assist in Schapelle's return to Australia. The former Queensland police officer has provided security for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Leonard Cohen, the Dalai Lama and tennis stars including Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer.

The relentless media attention on Corby and her family has taken its toll.

Her brother Michael and sister Mercedes are staying with her in Bali ahead of her release. Michael has been playing a series of bizarre pranks on the waiting TV crews, appearing in a range of grotesque masks and a dress -- which at one point he pulled oranges from.

Schapelle Corby's mother, Rosleigh Rose, said she's worried about how her daughter will adjust to life in Australia after more than a decade in Indonesia. She told The Courier Mail she spoke to Corby regularly on the phone and on Skype, but had not been to Indonesia for two years.

"When she gets here and settles in, we'll just have to make sure we get her out and about," she said.

"She hasn't been able to leave the house in Bali for a couple of weeks because all the media have been camped outside."

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Schapelle Corby is hugged by her mother, Rosalie Rose, after she was found guilty of drug trafficking.

Rose said Corby had "mixed emotions" about leaving Indonesia, "but it's out of our hands. I don't bring it up with her because it's not a nice subject".

It is reported that Corby is dating a Sumatran man living in Indonesia, Ben Panangian, whom she met in Kerobokan prison in 2006 while he was serving time for drugs charges. In December 2014, he was again imprisoned for 10 months for marijuana possession. It has been speculated that he would find it difficult to obtain a visa to Australia due to his drug convictions.

An Australian immigration spokesman told Fairfax Media visa applicants are required to provide details of their criminal history, which was taken into consideration when making a decision.

Corby herself may also be unable to return to Indonesia in the near future, as foreigners deported from the country are generally banned from coming back for at least six months.

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