Family matters cause more Corby conflict

BRISBANE - You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family.

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby hopes of winning freedom from her Bali prison cell have been set back by allegations surrounding some of her relatives.

One of the blackest days for Corby in the nightmare she has lived through for 15 months was on January 19 when half brother James Kisina faced court south of Brisbane over a violent, drug related home invasion.

Within hours of the 18-year-old's court appearance, the Indonesian Supreme Court - in an unrelated development - reinstated Corby's original 20 year sentence.

Queensland police would allege in an affidavit against Kisina that they suspected he may have been involved in the attempted smuggling of cannabis into Bali for which his half sister was convicted.

Kisina flew into Bali with Corby in October 2004, and was there when airport customs officials found 4.1kg of marijuana in her bodyboard bag.

And in another blow to the Corby camp, the ABC's 7.30 Report this week alleged Corby's father Michael Corby had been linked to a man recently charged over a marijuana growing operation.

It was reported police raided the man's property at Gladstone in central Queensland - next to one owned by Mr Corby - in September 2004.

This was just a month before Schapelle Corby was arrested at Bali's Denpasar airport.

Corby's mother Rosleigh Rose, back in Brisbane after another visit to her daughter in Bali, dismissed the accusations against her ex-husband but still close friend as "total lies".

The recent developments in the Corby saga, including the departure of her flamboyant Indonesian lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea, have been all bad news for the former Gold Coast beauty student.

Also casting a shadow over the Corby case is the fact three of her mother's six children from three relationships have now spent time behind bars.

James Kisina is in custody pending another court appearance next month while half brother Clinton Rose has done time for theft and fraud offences.

Corby doubters have also pointed out that her father has an old conviction for possessing marijuana.

A recent poll on the ninemsn website, taken after Kisina's arrest and the reinstatement of her original jail term, highlighted a shift in public sentiment towards Corby.

A poll question asking whether she should have had the 20 year sentence reinstated from 15 years found 47 per cent of respondents (54,027 people) in favour, and 53 per cent (70,799) opposed.

Although there is obviously still strong support for Corby, it's a big change from May last year when she was found guilty in a dramatic, televised court appearance from Bali.

Then a ninemsn online poll on whether the verdict she received was fair attracted more than 200,000 respondents with 76 per cent believing she had been harshly treated.

But a lot of Australians now don't buy the story that Corby was an innocent victim whose bodyboard bag had marijuana stashed in it by airport baggage handlers involved in drug smuggling.

"Finally Australians are waking up to the fact that Corby did arrive in Bali with drugs," said one correspondent to a ninemsn forum on Corby.

"She was caught, went to court and sentenced accordingly."

Another correspondent said: "Her mother should stop fighting her innocence. If anything, she's making it worse for her daughter. Schapelle should just accept her fate."

Former Corby lawyer Robin Tampoe believes she needs a legal miracle now to have her jail term reduced.

"Unless something absolutely extraordinary happened now that maybe would create the ability to reopen the trial or have a new trial allocated, she's going to sit there for quite a while to come," he said.

Supporter Rachelle Hamilton, who had organised rallies for Corby on the Gold Coast, also believes she now needs a miracle despite being convinced of her innocence.

Ms Hamilton said there were still big differences between Corby's case and the accused drug mules among the Bali Nine, who were caught at Denpasar Airport with heroin strapped to their bodies and also face lengthy jail terms.

"Nobody in Australia rose up to support the Bali Nine as they did Schapelle," she said.

"There's a great amount of reasonable doubt in Schapelle's case."

Unless new evidence can be produced to prove her innocence, Corby's best chance of returning to Australia before reaching middle-age may be a prisoner exchange program being negotiated with Indonesia.

But her mother has said she'd probably refuse because of the "big butch sheilas" in Australian women's prisons.



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