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Australian drug convict to learn Indonesia parole decision

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Jailed Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby in Denpasar, Bali, on April 22, 2008/AFP

Jailed Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby in Denpasar, Bali, on April 22, 2008/AFP

KEROBOKAN, Feb 7 – Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby is expected to learn Friday whether Indonesian authorities will grant her parole, as mobs of journalists camped outside her Bali prison and a bidding war heated up for her tell-all post-jail interview.

Corby, whose case attracted huge public sympathy in Australia, will find out whether she is to walk free after nine years behind bars when Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin announces his decision in the afternoon.

She was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 after being caught trying to smuggle 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana into the resort island of Bali hidden in her surfing gear the previous year.

Syamsuddin has said in the past he does not oppose parole for the 36-year-old although he insisted this week she will not get “special treatment”.

As anticipation built in recent days that her release was imminent, hordes of Australian media have flocked to Bali and set up camp outside the infamous Kerobokan jail where she is held.

A crowd of some 60 reporters, cameramen and photographers were outside the prison Friday, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Channel Seven has reportedly sent the biggest crew to Bali, with 17 staff dispatched from Australia and another seven locals on board.

Her sister Mercedes, with whom Corby will live on Bali if she is granted parole, arrived in the morning on a motorbike and had to fight her way through the scrum.

As she emerged after the visit, Mercedes told reporters she had no indication yet what Syamsuddin’s decision might be.

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“We are just waiting nor for her to be freed,” she said, adding “please give us some privacy”.

A media bidding war is reportedly in full swing in Australia that could see Corby earn millions of dollars for her tell-all story if she is released.

There have been claims that the bidders would pay as much as Aus$3 million (US$2.7 million), although The Australian broadsheet said informed sources had told it that a more realistic price would be Aus$1 million.

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