Schapelle Corby has edged closer to parole after winning crucial approval from the Justice Ministry office in Bali.
A spokesman for the office on Wednesday confirmed the 36-year-old’s parole application had been approved and would be immediately forwarded to Jakarta for further consideration.
“From the hearing yesterday, we have issued a recommendation which is approving Corby to receive her parole,” Justice Ministry office spokesman Made Badra said in Bali on Wednesday.
“Our consideration is that Corby has fulfilled a substantive requirement, which is she has served two-thirds of her sentence and behaved well.”
It’s still likely to be months before Corby, caught in 2004 attempting to smuggle more than 4kg of marijuana into Bali in a bodyboard bag, wins final approval for parole from the Justice Ministry in Jakarta.
Another hearing is expected to take place within the next two weeks in Jakarta at the office of the Director-General of Prisons.
“Based on previous experience, the answer of approval or rejection to parole should be received within 12 days after the documents are received by the Prisons Director-General,” Made Badra said.
However, even if Corby wins the support of the Prisons Director-General, the final approval for her parole application would still have to come from the Justice Minister.
In another promising sign, Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has told AAP he does not believe there are any impediments to Corby being granted an early release.
“As long as she fulfils requirements in its regulation and has finished her obligation, and didn’t break any rules, no one can prevent her to get her parole,” he said.
Mr Syamsuddin also insisted the final decision would not be affected by critics in Indonesia, including anti-drug activists and some politicians, who are ardently opposed to Corby being granted any leniency.
“About this Corby thing, I always become the target of critics,” Mr Syamsuddin said.
“But I couldn’t prevent someone from getting their rights just because I’m afraid of critics. That can’t be happening.”
Corby must also obtain a letter from the Immigration Ministry confirming her visa status before she can be released from Bali’s Kerobokan jail, but this is expected to be just a formality.
“We have sent a letter to Immigration Directorate-General to ensure that Corby’s stay permit will be issued once she’s released from prison,” Made Badra said.
Corby is serving a 15-year jail term after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last year granted her clemency on humanitarian grounds and slashed her sentence by five years.
The convicted drug smuggler would have to serve her parole in Bali, where she would live with her sister Mercedes and brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, in Kuta.