Schapelle Corby will know in two weeks whether she will be sentenced to languish in an Indonesian prison for the rest of her life.
Judgment day for the accused drug smuggler was set down for May 27 after her defence team wound up its case in a Bali court today.
But Corby’s lawyers were dealt a disappointing last-minute setback by failing to have what they claim is crucial new evidence presented in open court.
The trial’s three-judge panel refused to hear details of emerging allegations linking Australian airport baggage handlers and an international drug syndicate following a Sydney cocaine bust.
It also declined to watch a video of a recent Indonesian TV interview in which the head of Bali’s drug squad, Colonel Bambang Sugiarto, was interpreted as suggesting the Corby investigation might have been “50 per cent” flawed – something he has subsequently denied.
Baggage handlers and Indonesian law enforcement procedures have been at the heart of the 27-year-old Gold Coast woman’s tearful pleas of innocence since her arrest last October.
Her defence team claims drug gangs are responsible for putting the 4.1 kg of marijuana in her unlocked bodyboard without her knowledge, perhaps during an Australian airport stopover before her arrival in Bali.
They also accuse Indonesian customs and police officers of bungling basic procedures when Corby was stopped on arrival at Denpasar airport.
The judges today also refused to read six unopened letters from Australians which the defence says could contain new information about drug trafficking and the use of unwitting “mules”.
Corby – who earlier smiled and chatted with her mother and relatives through the bars of a holding cell – sat passively as the judges ruled it was too late to formally hear new evidence in the Denpasar District Court.
“Evidence that is not produced in court is not evidence,” said chief prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantano.
However, the judges said they would consider written defence submissions filed by Monday.
“We are disappointed. But we still hope the judges will acquit Schapelle,” chief defence counsel Lily Lubis said after the hearing.
Lubis hugged Corby, who also waved at well-wishers and family – many wearing symbolic yellow ribbons.
“We have to be optimistic. Our client deserves a fair trial,” said Lubis.
Corby’s mother Rosleigh Rose also appeared stoically upbeat.
“She is going to come home. She has to,” Rosleigh said as she walked into the packed courtroom.
Corby’s sister Mercedes came to court carrying a large pile of petitions.
She said she had received about 30,000 signatures on paper and 80 to 100 letters of support a day as well as hundreds of emails.
“Schapelle knows about this. It has helped her a lot,” Mercedes said. “Her spirits are up an down. It depends on the day.”
Prosecutors have called for a life sentence if Corby is convicted on May 27.
Such a sentence would trigger months of appeals, during which Corby would probably stay incarcerated in Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison, where she shares a squalid cell with eight other inmates.
Even if Corby is acquitted or is punished with a light sentence, the prosecution could launch an appeal of it own.
In their final verbal submission today, Corby’s lawyers accused the persecution of manipulating facts – “bending what is straight and straightening what is bent”.
“The defendant should be released of all charges,” said one defence lawyer, Erwin Siregar.
During the 30-minute defence presentation judges were seen variously rubbing their eyes or reading what appeared to be a legal text.
One seemed to be fidgeting with what looked like a business card. None took notes, although a written text was handed to them at the hearing’s conclusion.