The Democratic Party has dismissed reports that its members were asked to back down from opposing the president’s decision to significantly cut the sentence of convicted Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby.
Corby’s 20-year sentence was cut to by a quarter despite criticism from politicians, who said the decision contradicted the government’s commitment to combat drug smuggling. Members of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Golkar Party — both coalition members — had expressed criticism.
Corby was convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali from Australia. Following the sentence reduction, Corby could be eligible for parole as early as Sept. 21, according to officials at Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, where she is being held.
A group of lawmakers had said they would submit a request to the House of Representatives to formally scrutinize the decision under interpellation law, which could have been politically difficult for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
But the plan fizzled following a meeting on Thursday between coalition members, led by Democrats.
Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the House, later confirmed that Corby’s case was on the agenda of the meeting, but denied that it was the sole focus of the discussions.
“It was a routine Setgab [Coalition Joint Secretariat meeting] not an extraordinary meeting [on Corby],” she said. “We discussed political issues and Setgab agendas. If anyone talks about a particular matter [such as Corby], that is not unusual.”
Nurhayati went on to deny that ministers had been pressured at the meeting to back down from criticism of the decision to reduce Corby’s sentence. Instead, she said, they had reached a “consensus.”