AU:New Evidence May Clear Schapelle Corby

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Mar 27, 2005
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New evidence may clear Schapelle Corby
March 17, 2005 - 3:49PM

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A Gold Coast woman facing the death penalty in Bali for drug smuggling clutched her sister's hand and said "Oh my God" when told of new evidence which could clear her.

Beauty therapy student Schapelle Corby was told on Thursday about a crucial affidavit, obtained by her Australian lawyers, implicating others in her case.

The signed statement claimed Corby was an unwitting drug courier who had been used by a criminal gang in a bid to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of cannabis from Brisbane to Sydney.

The pillowcase-sized stash was discovered by Indonesian customs officers last October as Corby passed through Bali airport.

Corby, 27, flew to Bali from Brisbane, via Sydney.

She learned of the new statement as she waited in a holding cell at the Denpasar District Court ahead of her next trial appearance.

Corby looked delighted but said little as her sister Mercedes reached through the bars and, amid tears, broke the news.

Corby's lawyers revealed an unidentified man had come forward and signed a statement naming three baggage handlers he says planted the drugs in Corby's unlocked boogie board bag.

AdvertisementChief lawyer Lely Sri Rahaya Lubis said the three baggage handlers had since been jailed in Australia, while the man who made the statement was also in prison.

She said she would request a one-week adjournment and would present the affidavit to the court's three judges next week.

"I told her that the people who put the marijuana in her bag are already arrested in Australia (for other crimes)," Lely said.

"Now the police are still doing their investigations to bring the necessary things to help her get out of jail.

"She is happy with that and hopes it will come through."

But Lely admitted it would be difficult to bring the man to Bali to testify, as he was a prisoner in Australia.

"That now depends on the Australian authorities," she said.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has ordered authorities to do everything possible to help Corby, while Prime Minister John Howard said he also had an interest in the case.

However Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty dismissed the new evidence as hearsay, with no direct link to Corby's case.

Mr Keelty told reporters in Brisbane officers were interviewing a prisoner said his statement contained no direct evidence related to Corby's case.

"It does mention Corby, but only in the sense that the prisoner made the conclusion that it was connected to the Corby case and overheard other prisoners talking about the Corby case," Mr Keelty said.

"It's at best hearsay evidence."

Corby's mother Rosleigh Rose said outside the court that her daughter had been plagued by strangers ringing, writing and even visiting her in prison, claiming to be following her trial and able to help her.

"We don't know anything about him. Hopefully he is the real thing," Rose said.

"We are hopeful, but we don't want to get too excited in case we are let down."

Mercedes said it could be the evidence that saved Schapelle from a firing squad.

"We're really hopeful that she'll be coming home real soon. But I'm trying not to get too excited," she said.

She said the family had heard rumours for months about a man who may have evidence which could help her sister and who had been trying to come forward.

"But we don't know who he is or even if it's the same guy," she said.

© 2005 AAP

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