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June 1, 2005
Indonesia Issues Warning To Aussies On Colby Case

Indonesia warned Australians that their protests on behalf of Schapelle Corby, the young woman sentenced to twenty years for drug smuggling, will drive a wedge between the neighboring countries at a time when cooperation in the war on terror is most needed. It also threw a bit of cold water on the notion of a prisoner exchange:

Calls for a tourist boycott of Bali to protest an Australian woman's 20-year sentence for smuggling marijuana onto the Indonesian island are driving a wedge between the two countries, an Indonesian official said Monday.

Several travel agents have advocated the boycott, along with relatives Schapelle Corby, 27, who was convicted and sentenced last week for smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana onto Bali in October.

Many Australians believe Ms. Corby's tearful claims of innocence.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa warned against a boycott, with negotiations to start next week on Australia's push for a prisoner transfer agreement that could let Ms. Corby and 13 other Australians in Indonesian prisons serve their sentences at home.

With the greatest respect -- and the greatest sympathy, also, even for the feelings of Australians to Miss Corby's case -- using this case [to] drive a wedge between the two peoples and two governments is ... not advisable, Mr. Natalegawa told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. ...

Australia hopes to expedite a prisoner exchange treaty following the Corby verdict. But Mr. Natalegawa said the process would likely to take longer than Australians hope -- if an agreement is reached at all.

Indonesia would oppose an interim deal tailored for Ms. Corby, he said.

Far be it from me to complain about heavy penalties for drug traffickers. I have no idea if Ms. Colby actually did try to kite 4 kilos of pot through Bali customs, or if it was planted on her as she claims. All I know is that giving a 20-year-old woman a twenty-year sentence for smuggling pot while giving the mastermind of the bombing that killed over 200 people -- scores of them Colby's fellow Aussies -- a 30-month sentence amounts to a slap in the face to the so-called friendship between Indonesia and Australia.

Indonesia should take that into account when deciding on Ms. Colby's fate, whether or not she was framed. Australians should also take that into account when making their vacation plans.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 1, 2005 6:25 AM

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