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Schapelle Corby: A question of innocence

ROSS COULTHART Reporter: Did she do it or didn't she? It's the question Australians are asking about Schapelle Corby.
Ten days ago in an Indonesian courthouse, she begged for her freedom.

SCHAPELLE CORBY: "My heart and my family have been painfully burdened by all these accusations and rumours about me, and I don't know how long I can survive in here."

ROSS COULTHART: But just how plausible is her only defence; that someone else planted the drugs found in her bags, using her as an unwitting mule to move drugs around the country.

SCHAPELLE CORBY: "And I swear as God is my witness I did not know marijuana was in my bag"

ROSS COULTHART: If she's telling the truth, her horror experience is a cautionary tale for every traveler.

Today on Sunday, new evidence supporting that key Corby claim:
You are aware from your own experiences as a senior federal police officer, of incidents where drugs were moved between Australian airports by drug traffickers.


ROSS COULTHART: Using baggage handling staff.

RAY COOPER: Former AFP Internal Investigator:
Using baggage handling staff yes.

ROSS COULTHART: And he says his investigations ten years ago revealed corrupt police were involved with drug traffickers using airports to move drugs around the country.

RAY COOPER: There were some people in there that were protecting these people and I was told to go softly softly.

ROSS COULTHART: You'll also meet this couple — Steve and Dee. What happened to them is exactly what Schapelle Corby says has happened to her. They opened their suitcase in their Bali hotel to find:

STEVE: An airtight bag, probably similar to the size of a loaf of bread, full of what we now know was marijuana.

ROSS COULTHART: So why was Steve told to destroy the drugs and why has no police agency ever sought to interview him?

STEVE: Nobody's got in touch with me at all. Which I find quite amazing.

ROSS COULTHART: We also confront Schapelle's sister Mercedes with the many rumours now widely circulating about her family:

MERCEDES CORBY (SISTER): It really annoys me. It really does, that people make up these lies. And these are people who don't even know. Anyone who knows me knows that ... Ooooh, I get so frustrated.

ROSS COULTHART: And from Corby's lawyer…

ROBYN TAMPOE (CORBY'S LAWYER): I do not think it's possible for Schapelle Corby to have a fair trial, predominantly because of the screw-ups in Australia, the screw-ups here. Basic things that should have been done have not been done. So how can she put the best evidence before this court to ensure she gets a fair trial because it doesn't exist.

ROSS COULTHART: The presumption of innocence. It's one of the fundamental tenets of Australia's justice system. But here in Bali that onus of proof is reversed for Schapelle Corby. Once she was found with the drugs in her bag, it fell to her and her defence team to prove her innocence. To prove that she didn't know the drugs were there. And to prove her claim that someone else planted the drugs. But unless that alleged someone else steps forward and dobs themselves in, she has an almost impossible task.

ROSS COULTHART: Schapelle Corby's journey to Indonesia began on October 8th last year. She arrived here at Brisbane Airport's Domestic Terminal for the start of what was meant to be a few weeks holiday catching up with her sister Mercedes in Bali.

MERCEDES CORBY: She wanted a holiday because Dad's sick and it was my 30th birthday. So she wanted to be here. I had been dreading turning 30 (laughs) so we were going to have a little barbecue and she just wanted to be here with me.

ROSS COULTHART: Schapelle was catching a 6am domestic Qantas flight to Sydney to join up with an Australian Airlines flight direct to Denpasar. As well as her suitcase, she was taking a body-board and fins. Inside the terminal her two bags were checked in with the bags of two friends travelling with her. It was the last they'd see them for 12 hours until Bali. At 1015 later that morning their Australian Airlines flight took off from Sydney for Denpasar. And as this picture shows, it was a happy time. Later that day, Mercedes was impatiently waiting for her sister to arrive at her Bali hotel.

MERCEDES CORBY: I was sort of a little bit angry, thinking what has she done, given me the wrong hotel name. And then I got a phone call from Katrina, one of the girls travelling with Schapelle and I thought she was joking first. She was like all upset and I was like ‘Oh yeah right'. And then I could just hear in her voice and I said put the policeman on.

ROSS COULTHART: Inside Denpasar Airport's international terminal, Schapelle Corby's life was falling apart. As her brother James carried her body board bag for her, he was challenged by an Indonesian Customs officer.

ARCHIVAL IV SCHAPELLE CORBY: So the guy that was checking the bags said to my younger brother, who is 17, he said ‘Is that your boogie board'. Yeah. I'm so excited. I'm having a holiday. I haven't been here for four years. And I've gone. No, it's mine. And I've picked it up and put it on the counter. And Yeah it's mine. And I've opened it up and I've just seen. I don't know what it was but I saw it's not — I didn't put it there.

ROSS COULTHART: Inside the bag, 4 and a half kilograms of marijuana double-wrapped in two vacuum sealed plastic bags. The biggest ever seizure at Bali airport.

MERCEDES CORBY: She was just sort of sitting there all numb and I didn't notice the stuff just sitting there in the middle of the floor and I was thinking there's a mistake or something small. I didn't know. And then I walked out to see what's going on, like I'm going to handle this, and then the policeman just pointed on the ground and I ... my legs collapsed. I screamed. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

ROSS COULTHART: Back in Australia the Schapelle Corby case has become the subject of intense debate. Daily talkback heard many stories of baggage tampering, and speculation over whether Corby really could be the innocent victim of a domestic drug smuggling ring.

Last month Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told Sunday's Laurie Oakes the AFP could find no evidence to support that key Corby Defence claim.

ARCHIVAL (SUNDAY 24 APRIL, LAURIE OAKES AND MICK KELTY, HEAD OF AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE): If people use that as a defence, they've got to understand that they, it needs to be corroborated, and we will follow down every lead to corroborate as best we can, that sort of allegation.

ROSS COULTHART: The Federal Police's National Manager Mike Phelan has also told the Corby lawyers the AFP believes, "it is extremely rare to encounter a genuine ‘unsuspecting mule'".
He says that "in the vast majority of cases that the AFP encounters, where people deny knowledge of drugs found in their possession, there is other compelling evidence that supports their guilt".

But Gold Coast lawyer Robyn Tampoe, who is acting for Corby, says that in her case there is no compelling evidence of Corby's guilt.

ROBYN TAMPOE: One of the things I really wanted to put before the court was a member of the Federal Police to tell the Indonesian Court that they're aware that these things go on, that they're aware there is a problem with domestic drug trafficking but they refuse to do that.

ROSS COULTHART: Tampoe says Federal Police have told the Defence team there was no on-going Police investigation into baggage handlers prior to Corby's arrest.

ROBYN TAMPOE: They weren't carrying out an investigation. They had ah no knowledge of these sorts of offences taking place. Um yeah simply quite simply it wasn't happening and ah therefore they would not and could not come to Indonesia to give evidence in relation to that topic.

ROSS COULTHART: He says the Federal Police's refusal to testify has been a major set-back for the Defence not least because he claims senior Government sources have told him there is just such an investigation under way.

ROBYN TAMPOE: As we understand it there has been an investigation an ongoing investigation into domestic drug trafficking and it…

ROSS COULTHART: In the baggage handling area?

ROBYN TAMPOE: In baggage handling um in airports and it had — that this investigation preceded our request by some months.

ROSS COULTHART: The Federal Police told Sunday it is standard practice not to comment on investigations nor indeed on whether one is or isn't underway.
So Sunday began investigating the plausibility of that key Corby defence: that domestic drug traffickers would use an innocent passenger to shift drugs into and around Australia through airports?

ROBYN TAMPOE: There's no security coming in and out so you walk in as a member of airport staff. You have access to these areas. As a baggage handler you have access to these areas. You go in, you put the, the drugs into a, this bag. You ring it through to your mate in Sydney or Melbourne or wherever, wherever the plane, the plane's going to, it goes there, he has the tag numbers. He pulls it out it's moved. It's moved in an hour, hour and twenty minutes. That's how fast it is and that's how easy it is. It's a great way to transport drugs.

ROSS COULTHART: Here at Sydney Airport we filmed staff entering and leaving the secure baggage handling area. There is no systematic checking of bags. A criminal could pass through with drugs undetected.

ROSS COULTHART: Are there any incidents that you are aware of where passengers have been the unwitting victims of drug syndicates moving drugs around Australia.

GEOFF ASKEW, QANTAS HD SECURITY: It's never been reported to me that any Qantas passenger has had their bag used to transport drugs.

ROSS COULTHART: Although, how would they know about it to complain about it. If this was a drug smuggling operation, presumably it would have been taken out of their bag before it was delivered to them, wouldn't it?

GEOFF ASKEW, QANTAS HD SECURITY: Ross I think what people underestimate here is that we have a large workforce and in the baggage area by its pure nature a lot of employees are in that area and for those sort of activities to occur unobserved is very, very highly unlikely. And we depend on our staff to report that sort of behaviour as well.

ROSS COULTHART: Qld Transport Workers Union State Secretary Hughie Williams questions why any criminal would take such a risk?

HUGHIE WILLIAMS: Why would you want to take that risk, that grave risk of putting it in somebody else's luggage under all the surveillance when you can slip down that amount of drugs on the back of a truck on the back of a palette in a tool box or the spare tire of a truck, which has happened on numerous occasions.

ROSS COULTHART: But Hughie Williams admits the Corby defence claim is possible.

HUGHIE WILLIAMS: Well I suppose when you're travelling and there's lots of people around, from security, to management, to all kinds of people that are in contact with those bags, people at check-out counters, etc, etc, I suppose anything could happen.

ROSS COULTHART: Scott Speed works as a baggage handler at Brisbane Airport — in the same secure area where the Corby Defence team has suggested any tampering must have occurred. He too admits it's possible but unlikely.

SCOTT SPEED: It's possible but I know all the guys there at Brisbane Airport and there's a, my opinion, there's no way anyone would do it.

ROSS COULTHART: And yet you've now met Schapelle Corby haven't you?

SCOTT SPEED: Yeah, I've met her yes.

ROSS COULTHART: Is she a drug trafficker do you think?

SCOTT SPEED: Um, no, I honestly don't think she is. No.

ROSS COULTHART: You're convinced she's innocent?

SCOTT SPEED: She's been set up and I can't see how it could be, a baggage handler in Brisbane either.

ROSS COULTHART: One crucial point both Hughie Williams and Scott Speed make is that it's not just baggage handlers who have the opportunity to plant something in baggage here at Brisbane.

SCOTT SPEED: Once the boogie board's gone through, put onto the barrow, the barrow could go out onto the allocated bay and if it goes around to where you can't see it, round to the satellite, anyone could do it.

ROSS COULTHART: These photographs of unattended baggage sitting on the apron at Brisbane Airport were taken by this airport worker, who asked not to be identified.

ANONYMOUS: I saw unattended baggage in areas that I know are not generally under surveillance with airport cameras. In one occasion there was a trolley load of bags left unattended for in excess of fifty minutes. It demonstrates that somebody with a predisposition to plant something and have it transported from airport to airport can do so quite easily without attracting attention.

ROSS COULTHART: And then there's Chris Lush who was hired to install cabling in the ceiling at Brisbane Domestic Airport terminal, just a few weeks after Schapelle Corby left for Bali.

CHRIS LUSH: And we just noticed about thirty odd locks sitting beside the conveyor belt that some had parts of bags on them It looked like someone had been rummaging through bags and taking locks off in a certain area and taking bags off and obviously putting them back on and scavenging through bags I'd say

ROSS COULTHART: In Sydney we tracked down another witness with a remarkably similar story. In 2003 Mick Milakovic was working on air-conditioning in the ceiling of the international terminal right next to the luggage conveyor belts.

MICK MILAKOVIC: We'd been working in the ceiling space and found probably half a bucket of pad locks.

ROSS COULTHART: Half a bucket?

MICK MILAKOVIC: Approximately. I'd been counting up to twenty.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you think that there's a plausible explanation, an innocent explanation for why all those locks were there. Perhaps they'd fallen off as they hit something on the conveyor belt?

MICK MILAKOVIC: No, there is no way. Because they had been cut. They'd been cut. If it was locked and were there I can say it is accidentally. But locks are in two pieces.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you think it's plausible that large numbers of locks could be broken snapped by the way in which they're pushed through the baggage handling system.

GEOFF ASKEW, QANTAS SECURITY BOSS: Ross I am unable to answer that. I know where you're going with this but I can't answer that.

ROSS COULTHART: Sydney Airport Corporation is responsible for security at the International Terminal. They told us they didn't know anything about any broken locks in the terminal ceiling. They said, any complaints about baggage handling are the responsibility of individual airlines.

Qantas told us it alone gets approximately 400 complaints a year from passengers about baggage tampering.

GEOFF ASKEW: Well we try and investigate them all. It is difficult. Some of those bags would have started their journeys overseas with other carriers. But we certainly take them very seriously and we investigate as many as we can.

ROSS COULTHART: There are concerns too that such passenger complaints are not always properly investigated by some airlines.
Sydney businessman Stephen Pearson retrieved his briefcase off a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast four years ago, only to discover its locks had been jemmied open. But no-one was interested.

STEPHEN PEARSON: It's a pretty easy sort of crime to sort of solve but no they weren't interested in that so I think you know I got the distinct feeling that they were happy to see the back of me and I was happy to accept a new briefcase that was the end of the matter.

ROSS COULTHART: Just a few weeks ago, Ron Powell returned to Sydney from New Zealand to find the locks on his suitcase had been jemmied open.

RON POWELL: No I didn't report it because nothing was taken because nothing was in there. I thought you'd just get a file number and that'd be the end of it. Waste of my time and Police time.

ROSS COULTHART: But the Corby case has made him think again.

RON POWELL: The danger was they could have put something in here to get it back to Australia. I would never know.

ROSS COULTHART: There are good reasons for passengers to be suspicious. For there is a precedent for what Schapelle Corby says happened to her.
The evidence of this couple, Dee and Steve. In June 1997, they arrived at their Bali hotel off a flight from Melbourne to find a large block of compressed marijuana in their luggage.

STEVE: When we got to the hotel room, my wife opened up the case, um yelled out my name. I turned around and she had a package of marijuana in her hands. Probably similar to the size of a loaf of bread.

DEE: Just a big plastic bag and it was all quite firm and packed.

ROSS COULTHART: Steve and Dee don't want us to use their last name because they know that somewhere in Australia there's a drug dealer wondering what happened to his dope.
But they did report their find to the Australian Consulate in Bali — only to be given extraordinary advice.

STEVE: He said to me do you want the good news or the bad news and I said well give me ah good news. And he laughed and said there isn't any. And I said well give me the bad news. And he said you get caught with that and you'll be eating nasi goreng for the rest of your life in jail. He suggested that I flush it down the toilet. Flush the whole lot down the toilet. Get it out of my possession and don't go to the authorities under any circumstances at all.

ROSS COULTHART: When Steve couldn't flush it down the toilet, he sprinkled the marijuana over the hotel garden.

ROSS COULTHART: Ever cross your mind that Steve and you could be sitting in an Indonesian jail right now?

DEE: Absolutely that's what so scary about it.

ROSS COULTHART: It could have happened to you

DEE: It could have happened to us so easily.

ROSS COULTHART: There's nothing in Steve and Dee's background to raise a doubt about their account. But, amazingly, even after he came forward again with his story last month, no-one from any Australian police force has ever bothered to interview him.

STEVE: Nobody's got in touch with me at all, which I find quite amazing cos obviously that girl needs all the help she can get.

ROSS COULTHART: When we return, the inside story of crime in our airports from a former senior Federal police detective.

RAY COOPER: Well they were key players. You couldn't move the commodity through the airport without their involvement. They were key players in the organised crime role.

ROSS COULTHART: And the lies and damned lies people tell about Schapelle.

MERCEDES CORBY: I get so frustrated that people can make up these lies. 2705 And even the Press, they can print it. Do they even check the facts. Like, I don't live here. I don't own a surf shop. I am not a drug person. Schapelle — Urrrrr!


ROSS COULTHART: With a verdict due sometime later this month, it's clear already that the Defence team's evidence that tampering is possible has not swayed the Chief Judge in the Corby case. He has said publicly he's not yet convinced Corby is innocent.

ROBYN TAMPOE : I think anything to do with drugs, you're on the back foot straight away. The assumption straight away is that this girl, she must be guilty, she had drugs on her. But when you go into it and you understand the way that drugs are moved around um, not just Australia, but every other country, through baggage handlers, through corrupt airports staff, it's common, it's well-accepted, everybody knows it happens, it goes on.

ROSS COULTHART: And that's why the evidence of former Federal Police Detective Superintendent Ray Cooper is so important.
Until 1995 he headed the AFP's anti-organised crime operations and he previously investigated corrupt cops as head of operations for the AFP's Internal Investigations section.

ROSS COULTHART: Were there incidents that you were aware of in your time with the federal police, where unwitting passengers were used as mules to shift drugs between domestic airports.

RAY COOPER: There was ample intelligence when I was there. It was regular intelligence regarding this particular practice was going on. See I was in charge, I was in charge of the Gold Coast. And I can tell you that I've, we've done some operations on the Gold Coast, checking baggage, internal baggage if you like on domestic flights, and there was no control at the back of that airport, everyone, every man and his dog could access those baggages.

ROSS COULTHART: Can I be clear on this, are you saying that there were regular investigations into intelligence suggesting drug trafficking and corruption amongst airport staff, including baggage handlers.

RAY COOPER: Yes, it was well known, it was a well-known amongst the federal police that this particular operation and this particular strategy was being adopted by criminals.

ROSS COULTHART: More concerning, Ray Cooper's investigations back then suggested some corrupt State and Federal police were in league with drug traffickers at the airport.

RAY COOPER: There were lots of allegations regarding various drug trafficking operations. And from time to time Police were linked to those operations. There were narcotics, particularly cannabis, being moved from airport to airport by syndicates, and the baggage handlers were playing a key role in it.

ROSS COULTHART: One airport where Ray Cooper says this happened was Coolangatta on Queensland's Gold Coast.

ROSS COULTHART: Where your concerns about corruption in baggage handling in Australian airports ever adequately investigated?

RAY COOPER: No. In fact we ran an operation with the Qld Police one weekend at Coolangatta Airport where we put sniffer dogs over bags and we found some narcotics and we were criticised for the operation.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you think that the reason why some were resistant inside the AFP to further investigations was because there were allegations at the time of senior and serving officers in State and Federal Police being involved in drug trafficking?

RAY COOPER: That's part of it. I think the leadership of the Federal Police were not capable or strong enough to conduct a thorough and honest and open investigation. They were afraid of their reputation. They wanted the World to believe they were the only police force in the World who didn't have corruption. They were naïve then and I believe that to some extent they are still naïve.

ROSS COULTHART: Gary Hazell is a former security manager for Australian Airlines, who worked at Sydney Airport in the late 80s. He helped run an operation like this one from the United States, that used secret cameras, catching about sixty baggage handlers in Sydney and Melbourne. They were caught pilfering and tampering with passenger bags.

GARY HAZELL: We saw people ah baggage handlers in the holds of the aircraft they were actually going through bags, breaking open locks, the small padlocks on bags um and just feel, feeling bags. They used to feel the soft bags if they heard something rattle or they may have heard a bit of money or what they thought was money in there, they'd go in. They'd take out valuables of other nature.

ROSS COULTHART: So most of it was opportunistic thievery?

GARY HAZELL: Absolutely yep.

ROSS COULTHART: Did you ever see any evidence of people using other people's baggage for the purpose of transporting drugs?

GARY HAZELL: I didn't see it. I didn't actually see anything along those lines. There were rumours um and I know that the Federal Police at one stage were investigating um along those lines at the airport. They were looking at people importing drugs through Sydney Airport or through Australian airports.

ROSS COULTHART: Mr Hazell's concerned to this day about what happened to some of the airport staff implicated in crimes who resigned during his investigation.

GARY HAZELL: Within a matter of weeks I know that some of those people had um reapplied for employment and were given employment within I think in those days, Ansett and Qantas.

ROSS COULTHART: As well as the very public trial Schapelle Corby is facing in a Balinese court-house, there has also been an often vicious whispering campaign behind the scenes about her and her family.

MERCEDES CORBY: The people saying it don't know us. Don't know us. Everyone who knows us wouldn't say that. And I sometimes torture myself a little bit and I get on the internet and I think that's where a lot of the crap comes out because they're cowards.

ROSS COULTHART: There's the rumour that Schapelle had in fact been to Bali 33 times before her arrest:

MERCEDES CORBY: October when all this happened was her first time since 2000. Before that, she'd been a handful of times, four or five times.

ROSS COULTHART: She's not a regular visitor


ROSS COULTHART: Which leads to the next rumour, that Mercedes Corby is a long-time Bali local with links to the drug trade. This one is spiced up with the fact that Mercedes is married to a local Balinese man.

MERCEDES CORBY: I come to Bali once every one or two years for a holiday and we thought because my son was to start school this year, Grade One, we'd bring them to Bali to get the language the culture spend time with the family. Go back home. Go back to our jobs and he starts school. But because this happened with Schapelle, we're staying here.

ROSS COULTHART: So you're not a long-time Bali resident?


ROSS COULTHART: You're not someone with long time connections in the drugs trade, which is the other side of the conspiracy theory?


ROSS COULTHART: Even actor Russell Crowe has copped a serve in the rumour-mill since he spoke out in support of Schapelle Corby. The latest grossly untrue and baseless scuttlebutt is that Schapelle Corby was a high-class prostitute in Japan and Crowe was one of her clients. Somebody's just made it up. Then there's the one about her terribly ill father who is meant to have secreted the drugs on his daughter in a desperate bid to provide money for his family … or yet again, there's the stepfather who's meant to be serving time in prison for drugs.

ROSS COULTHART: Is there anybody in your family, a stepfather, a distant relative … Is there anybody who's ever been convicted or involved in the drugs trade?

MERCEDES CORBY: No. Not that I know of. Nah. There wouldn't be.

ROSS COULTHART: Has Schapelle to your knowledge ever dabbled on the wrong side of the tracks?

MERCEDES CORBY: Never. She's against drugs. Drug trafficker. I just don't even know how she's handling that even connected with her name.

ROSS COULTHART: A lot of the behind the scenes slander has been directed at this man, Ron Bakir, the Gold Coast mobile phone mogul who is bankrolling Schapelle Corby's defence.

RON BAKIR: "I think if my sister had ever been in a position like this, and I was less fortunate, I didn't have anybody to help her, I'd expect somebody else to help her"

ROSS COULTHART: A tidal wave of tittle-tattle has suggested — falsely — that Bakir had a relationship with Corby. Even absurd suggestions she is bearing his love-child. And perhaps most damaging of all, the insinuations that he made his money from drugs and that Schapelle was a criminal associate in his network.

RON BAKIR: Look when I was younger as a teenager, um I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Um, but I was never involved in any drugs and I will never ever be involved in any drugs because that is the worse thing in the world. I am so against it.

ROSS COULTHART: You're a man completely motivated by good intentions to this young woman?

RON BAKIR: One hundred per cent. My motives are one hundred per cent pure. I believe in her and I am a man of my word.


RON BAKIR: And I will never break my word for anyone, for anything, or any amount of money.

ROSS COULTHART: Does it make you sad that there is this whispering campaign behind the scenes?

RON BAKIR: Yes it does

ROSS COULTHART: About you and Schapelle?

RON BAKIR: It does. It does. It makes me very sad. It's disappointing because people don't listen to the facts. People pre-judge people, and it's disappointing.

ROSS COULTHART: We were with Bakir the moment he got the news last month that Indonesian prosecutors wanted Schapelle Corby to serve life in jail.

RON BAKIR: "Tony, life and a hundred million".

ROSS COULTHART: The publicity he's getting from his crusade on her behalf can't hurt business, but there's no doubting his passionate belief in her innocence. And he must by now be out of pocket by at least many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
After meeting Corby in her Bali prison, he committed to helping her on the spot.

RON BAKIR: You look at the case from A to Z It doesn't make sense. There's not one bit in the case that makes sense. Why would somebody smuggle drugs that are worth 60 to 80 in Australia. They're worth 60 to 80 grand in Australia. Why would you smuggle them to a country where they're worth $4,000. You just wouldn't do it.

ROSS COULTHART: Last week Indonesian TV viewers heard how the head of the Indonesian Police investigation into Corby sees many gaps and weaknesses in the case against her.

This extraordinary interview with the head of the Balinese Police's Narcotics Division — Bambang Sugiharto — has not yet been reported in Australia.

The prosecution case, he said, was only half there. Because of difficulties with fingerprinting and no camera footage at the airport.
Even though Corby's denial of any knowledge of the drugs in her bag is the central issue in the case, Indonesian Police have never done any fingerprinting.

ROB TAMPOE: There's no justification for that. It should have happened. It's the first thing that should have happened.

ROSS COULTHART: By contrast, when the Bali Nine were arrested last month, Indonesian Police were at pains to videotape themselves wearing gloves to ensure no evidence was contaminated. But nothing was filmed of Corby's arrest, nor the crucial search at Airport Customs where she disputes stopping officers from searching her bag.

ROB TAMPOE: Schapelle's not the first, she certainly won't be the last, it's going to happen time and time again and I think there's so many stories of these sorts of things going on that we don't know about it. How many people have been executed in the past because no-one believes a drug dealer.

It's automatic. You're a drug dealer, bang.

ROSS COULTHART: For most Australians, the Schapelle Corby story has become a daily media sideshow — fuelled by a venal undercurrent of grubby rumours circulating about her and her family.

But for those close to her, there is the awful prospect that an ill father may never get to see his daughter freed from a dirty tropical prison.

ROSS COULTHART: How's your Dad?

MERCEDES CORBY: Not too well.

ROSS COULTHART: Is that your fear — that he might not live to see his daughter freed from jail?

MERCEDES CORBY: Schapelle's innocent. She's got to be coming home. I can't think any other… It might not be as quick as we think. It might not be next week. But she will be coming home. We're going to keep fighting.

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