Event Timeline  |  Holes in the argument  |  Photo's of the bag  |  How can you help?




Last updated: 17 June 2005


Event Timeline

October 7th 2005

Schapelle is packing to go to Bali to celebrate Sister Mercedes birthday; her father Michael is present as she packs. A plastic strip is missing from the boogie board and Michael fixes the strip, and is present when the boogie board goes into the bag. Michael Corby states ‘She didn't have the bloody things’ (drugs).


Schapelle leaves for mother Ros’ house picking up Richards on the way. The four traveling companions Katrina Richards, Ally McComb, James (Schapelles brother) stay the night at Ros’ so she can drive them to the airport.


October 8th

Approximately 4.30am

The travelers wake, in the garage as they are about to leave Ally gave Schapelle a pair of flippers she had borrowed, McCombs, Richards and James all gave testimony that they seen Schapelle open the Boogie board bag and place the flippers inside. They all stated that the garage was brightly lit and the Yellow boogie board was the only item in the bag.


5.33 am

Closed circuit cameras observe Schapelle and her female companions checked in their luggage 3 suitcases and the boogie board bag at Brisbane airport. All the bags are weighed together and total 65 kgs. (This is crucial to the case, but Bali customs and police ignored this). Images recorded on the camera were deleted 25 days later, and the cameras were not working properly.



Flight leaves for Sydney.



Arrive at Sydney airport, change to International terminal where the group meets up with friend Jodie Powers who is catching a later flight to Bali to celebrate Mercedes Birthday.



Group leaves Sydney International airport for Bali, Schapelle tells Jodie they will see her at the pool at 5pm in Bali for a drink.


2.30pm Bali time (4.30 EST)

Plane arrives at Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar. The boogie bag is set aside from the other bags, which are on the carousel and as Schapelle is struggling with luggage, Ally asked James is asked to assist with the bags. James a weight lifter and rugby player claims he did not notice anything about the bag as he was just glad the plane hadn’t crashed.


Most people were getting their luggage checked. The customs officer asked James if it was his Boogie board, James said yes, but Schapelle said ‘No It’s mine’. Schapelle placed the boogie board bag on the counter and opened the zip. She noticed that the zip was done up in the middle of the bag, which she thought was strange as she always did the zip up to one side. Upon opening the bag Schapelle instantly seen something in the bag.


Inside the bag on top of the yellow boogie bag and under the flippers was 4.1 kilograms marijuana in two plastic bags, one inside the other, the size of a pillow case. The outer bag was a vacuum space bag.


James was taken to an interview room while Schapelle waited outside. James was ordered to remove the contents of the bag. Schapelle was bought into the room where the contents of the bag were on the floor, she was shocked. Schapelle admitted owning the bag, the boogie board and the flippers. She insisted she had no idea who owned the drugs and were they came from McComb was allowed to join them about 30 minutes later and was also shocked at what she seen in the interview room.


Katrina Richards called Mercedes, who spoke to a police officer. Mercedes then went to the airport, where custom officers were trying to get Schapelle to sign a statement. Mercedes warned her not to sign anything. Mercedes, Schapelle and McComb were insisting that custom officer’s stop handling the bag and take fingerprints. The officers said it was too late as it had been contaminated, the officials laughed at Mercedes.


Two hours after Corby was detained, customs were aware that there were four baggage tags in her name. The bags were only a few metres away, with Katrina Richards, who was anxiously guarding them. No attempt was made to search or weigh the bags, even though Corby demanded it. Later, when Corby had lawyers, it was too late. The bags had left the airport.


James and Schapelle were taken to a police cell were they were given fish and rice to eat, they were told to go to sleep.




References for this Information

The 7:30 Report 28/04/2005 *Interview with Schapelle & Michael Corby

Sixty Minutes November 14, 2004 *Interview with Schapelle & Ros Corby

The Bulletin 05/25/2005

The Bulletin 05/25/2005

The Sydney Morning Herald March 5, 2005 * Well worth the quick sign up form to read for more detailed information on the events that lead upto the arrival at Bali.

The Australian May 28, 2005

The Age March 5, 2005

ABC.net.au Sunday, 13 March  2005

The 7:30 Report 21/04/2005


Sydney Morning Herald (Click here for full story)

Holes in the argument

From the outset, the customs officers neglected four basic investigative procedures.

They handled the outside drug bag with unprotected hands, taking no precautions against contaminating the only item of evidence. They handled the bottom of the internal bag when they took out the marijuana.

First McComb and then Mercedes, when she got to the airport interview room, protested, demanding the bags be fingerprinted. They got the same reply. "Too late. Too many people have touched them." Mercedes said she replied: "Well, stop it right now." They laughed at her.

But Corby's lawyer, Lily Sri Rahaya Lubis, and her assistant, Vasu Rasiah, insist that most of the bag that actually contained the drugs was still clean because it had not been removed from the external bag. Only the bottom of the internal bag had been handled.

The fingerprint evidence is basic and important. If Corby's prints are on either bag, she is condemned. But if they are not, it is strong evidence for the defence, although not conclusive. Corby told the lawyers to press hard. "They won't find my fingerprints," she said.

In late December, almost three months after Corby's arrest and after repeated requests to have the evidence fingerprinted, the lawyers confronted the director of the Bali narcotics bureau, Senior Commissioner Bambang Sugiarto, who was in charge of the investigation.

Sugiarto had the bags brought to his office in Lubis's presence. "He confirmed the inside bag had not been removed. He said he would have it fingerprinted," Lubis said. But still it was not done.

She says the bag remained uncontaminated when it went to the prosecutor with other evidence on January 6.

But that changed on February 3, when Corby made her second court appearance. In front of the three judges, the internal drug bag was taken out of the external bag and handled freely by a number of court officials, including customs officer Winata, prosecutor Wiswantanu and assistant judge I Gusti Lanang Dauh.

At the close of court that day, the frustrated defence lawyers made a formal application to have the bags fingerprinted. Chief Judge Linton Sirait said he would consider it. "There's still plenty of time," he said. Two court sittings later, the lawyers are still waiting for his decision. Even now, they insist, it is not too late.

A second basic procedure was overlooked at the airport. Two hours after Corby was detained, customs were aware that there were four baggage tags in her name. The bags were only a few metres away, with Katrina Richards, who was anxiously guarding them.

The moment Corby claimed that the marijuana had been put into boogie board bag during transit, the weight of the bags became crucial evidence. If the bags weighed 4.1 kilograms - the weight of the marijuana - more in Bali than they did in Brisbane when they were checked in, then she was telling the truth. If the weights were the same, she was lying.

No attempt was made to search or weigh the bags, even though Corby demanded it. Later, when Corby had lawyers, it was too late. The bags had left the airport. The prosecution made no mention of this or of the failure to take fingerprints.

The third overlooked procedure is even more basic. The customs area at Ngurah Rai Airport is monitored by closed circuit cameras, which observed Corby's actions. They could corroborate or contradict her account. But the prosecutor said they were not checked. The defence has asked to see the tapes. The prosecutor said he would check to see if they were available.

There was a fourth failure. The X-ray machine that detected the marijuana is not equipped to take photographs. So no image was available to show the location of the marijuana in the boogie board bag before it got to customs.

The prosecution closed its case on February 17. It relies entirely on indisputable evidence that the marijuana was found in Corby's boogie board bag and on the contested testimony of two customs officers and two police officers about her actions and responses.

Winata's English-language proficiency was not established and will be challenged. Corby insists her responses were misunderstood. She says his English was not good and they had difficulty understanding each other. McComb, who also spoke to Winata that day, says the same.



What the defence team argued

(continued from above Sydney Morning Herald (Click here for full story)

Why, if Corby was smuggling the drugs into Bali, did she not take the basic precaution of putting a lock on her boogie board bag?

Why did she not take another obvious precaution and put the drugs behind the boogie board, which would have concealed them from anyone opening the bag? Instead, they were in front of the boogie board, visible the moment the bag was opened.

Why did she not try to conceal the contents of the plastic bags by giving them a protective wrapping? Instead, the marijuana is easily visible through clear plastic.

Why would anyone risk a death sentence smuggling marijuana from Australia to Bali, where it will sell for much less than they could get in Australia? This is not only the biggest marijuana importation into Bali intercepted by customs. It is the only one.

Where is the police evidence that Corby or any of her family had connections with drug traffickers? Bali police say they investigated her "network" in Bali - meaning Mercedes and her husband - but found nothing incriminating.

The Australian Federal Police confirm Corby has no criminal record. Queensland police have no intelligence to connect her to drugs. The wholesale price for good quality hydroponic marijuana in Brisbane is $4000 for half a kilogram. Where did a woman who works in a fish and chip shop get the money to buy 4.1kilograms?

The defence will argue that the marijuana was put in the boogie board bag in Brisbane by a corrupt employee with "airside" access, most likely for pick-up in Sydney, where the street price is $65,000, by another corrupt worker with access. But the pick-up was somehow missed - tight security, watchful baggage handlers, bad timing - and the marijuana travelled on to Bali. Or it is possible, the defence will argue, that the drugs were placed in the wrong bag on the wrong flight.

They will argue that the positioning of the marijuana in front of the boogie board indicates it was inserted in haste during transit.

They will argue that whoever planted the drugs was responsible for changing the zipper arrangement, zipping the bag from both sides, meeting in the middle. And that when customs opened and shut the boogie board bag, they carefully repeated this procedure to conceal their intrusion.

The problem is the defence can establish a lot of doubt but no absolute proof. From the outset, prosecutor Wiswantanu insisted that the only way he would accept that Corby was innocent was proof - visual or by weight - that the marijuana was not in the boogie board bag when she checked it in at Brisbane Airport. Or visual evidence of someone putting the drugs in the boogie board bag.

Any chance of getting that evidence has gone. The security camera tapes which might have helped - the prosecution as well as the defence - have been wiped. The luggage was not weighed in Bali.

Qantas says the tapes were wiped on November 2, two weeks before they received a letter from the lawyers officially requesting copies. After the letter, dated November 16, Qantas got forensic experts to see if any images could be recovered but this was not successful.

But Corby's lawyers say their first request for the tapes was made on October 14, six days after Corby's arrest, and was repeated a number of times.

The lawyers say that in the last week of October, the Qantas security official told them the tapes were going to be destroyed within a week. On October 28, they sent the security official an email, noting this, and requesting copies of the tapes before they were wiped. This did not happen.

Prosecutor Wiswantanu is demanding the death penalty. He has successfully prosecuted six foreigners for importing drugs. One of them got the death penalty. Corby is fighting for her life.



21/05/05 (Click here for full story)

One of Corby's chief lawyers, Erwin Siregar, asked the two police officer witnesses, Wayan Suwita and I Gusti Ngurah Bagus Astawa, why no fingerprints had been taken from the ziplock plastic sack inside the bodyboard bag. Suwita answered: "We knew it was marijuana, so it wasn't necessary." Siregar pointed out that the crime of drug smuggling potentially carried the death penalty and asked if that made a "perfect investigation" more important.

"It's not my duty to answer that," Suwita replied. "Ask my superior." Astawa also said he did not know whether fingerprints were taken. "It's not my field," he explained. Asked whether fingerprints were necessary in Corby's case, he replied, "No."

Fingerprinting is not a common procedure in Indonesia, where the under-resourced police force is hard-pressed to deal with burgeoning crime.

The defence, though, submitted transcripts of television footage showing gloved police officers dealing with the nine Australians recently arrested for heroin smuggling in Bali. Why gloves for the Bali Nine and not for Schapelle, came the question from the defence.

A transcript of an Indonesian TV interview with Bali drug squad chief Bambang Sugiarto was also tendered to the court by the defence after the closing addresses. Sugiarto said Corby's "condition" was only 50 per cent, apparently referring to shortcomings in the fingerprinting and videotaping elements of the investigation.

Countering the defence's queries about the failure to fingerprint the plastic sack of marijuana, prosecutor Ni Wayan Sinaryati told the court it was unnecessary.

"In this case, the criminal perpetrator was caught red-handed by the Customs officers at the airport," Sinaryati said.

The defence was also unable to prove the weight of Corby's bag when she checked in at Brisbane airport, since all the bags were weighed together and police in Bali did not weigh all the bags for an overall comparison. Nor did Balinese police take up an AFP request to test the marijuana to determine its origin; there was no need, they said, they already had a case.



Photo's of the bag (Copyright of their respective owners)

Below are photos of Schapelle's boogie board bag found with the drugs in them.


How can you help?

The Corbys have received advice from their legal team and have asked for Schapelles supporters to cease all fundraising activities, donation collection, rallies and protests from this point on.


The bottom line is we need to respect this decision and understand that we must comply to help ensure both the safety of Schapelle and also the positive outcome of her appeal.


While it may seem that this is the end of road - it most certainly is not. There are still many things you can do to support Schapelle and show you believe she is innocent.


Email Prime Minister John Howard and express your concerns not only for Schapelle but for the slack security measures in place at airports in Australia:



You can write to your local Member of Parliament; and your Federal Member of Parliament to voice your support for her plight. Please always remember to be respectful when you make contact.


The contact email addressees for these members can be found here: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/Email.asp


You can also directly support Schapelle by sending your letters and cards to her. I advise against emailing as it is very difficult to get them to her.


Below is quoted from Kay Danes from Foreign Prisoner Support Service, advocating on behalf of the Corby family.



It would be helpful if all supporters would address their letters directly to Schapelle and not electronically or via Mercedes whom I spoke with last night [Sat 4 June 2005]. Whilst the family appreciate all the emails and letters, they simply cannot cope with the logistical aspects the influx of emails creates.


It is imperative that letters be respectful to both the Indonesian justice system and to the Kerobokan Prison authorities. It is good public relations and will help the rapport that Schapelle needs to establish with those detaining her. I would go so far as to include text "Thank you to the Kerobokan Staff for allowing me to send letters to Schapelle Corby".


Letters and care packages can be sent to Schapelle:


Schapelle Corby C/- LPM Kerobokan

Jl. Tangkuban Perahu

Kerobokan, Denpasar

80117 Bali, INDONESIA


I have been to Kerobokan prison on a number of occasions as both friend to Schapelle and FPSS advocate. I can confirm that mail and items do get through to the prisoners. Prisoners are called into a room where they are handed unopened mail. The prisoner is then invited to open the mail in front of the officers. In general, the prisoner receives everything that is sent, including money inside the envelope. But as a general process, prisoners may share some items as a show of good will to prison staff. This is common in post prisons around the world. Just be sure to itemize everything you send.


Foreign Prisoner Support Service would like to thank everyone for their continued support to Schapelle and consideration to the Corby Family's request for privacy.



Kay Danes







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