Sunday, 15 February 2009

Ganja Queen

Ah, sweet mystery of life. Although far too early for Spring, today was quite springlike. Sunny, but cold, birdsong and shoots from bulbs coming through the soil.

Our viewing last night included the documentary film, 'Ganga Queen'. This is about the trial, conviction and sentencing of Schapelle Corby, a young woman who was the victim of a terrible injustice in Bali, and who now rots in a Balinese gaol for a crime there is not the slightest possibility she committed.

Schapelle was accused of smuggling a HUGE amount of top of the range Marijuana into Bali, this was found in the unlocked case of her Boogie Board. The sentence for smuggling dope into Bali is normally death, and before she had even been tried, there were scumbag locals protesting with placards that she should be executed.

The day she was arrested, a ring of baggage handlers were apprehended for involvement in a drug smuggling operation between Sydney and Brisbane, the exact route Schapelle had taken on her way to Bali.
The then Prime Minister took the unprecedented measure of writing an official letter to the Balinese Government, giving details of this.

A convicted criminal, with no motivation to do so, risked his own life, because he was still in prison, to report a conversation he had heard between two other inmates, detailing how the dope that Corby was found with, had been put in her bag by accident, it was supposed to be put in a different bag that was stopping at Brisbane. He testified at her trial.

I remember being horrified at the time, and now, having seen the film, there is a lot of actual footage of the arrest, the time before the trial and the trial itself, I am quite haunted by this. The film tried to show everything possible on both sides, they squirrelled out anyone they could who knew Corby and had ever been known to be involved with the weed, but they couldn't make any connection at all. Corby herself had never smoked it and her own blood tests were negative for it.

A university researcher who was an expert in profiling in this exact field, showed that she registered nowhere on the profile scale. She had none of the factors whatsoever.

We were able to see her real time reactions to everything and, as someone in the film said, 'She's either the most skilled actress ever, or she's innocent.' She was innocent, but she was found guilty, in the face of no evidence whatsoever and plenty to the contrary.
Even the evidence of the weed itself seemed to work more for her than against. Her bag was zipped, but not locked. She opened it unquestioningly when asked, but then saw the ten pound bag of marijuana and zipped it up again. Who would do that if they knew they were smuggling drugs?
The dope itself, was not DNA tested to show where it had come from, the bags were never fingerprinted and the weed was continually handled by various different people until it was destroyed, so it was also not available for either of her appeals.

It's haunting, because it's so random. You set out one morning to go on holiday with your family. You have never done anything illegal in your life, and you are going on holiday in any case, because your dad with cancer is living with you, and his treatment is about to be stepped up a notch.
You don't lock your luggage because - well why would you, and we're now told not to in any case.
Then as you arrive at your destination you become embroiled in some horrific nightmare that never ends. Kafka couldn't have written this real story better.
The more that surfaces that shows you couldn't have committed this crime, the more hopeful you become, and yet none of it has the slightest effect on those who are judging you.

Apart from anything else, it seems wildly ridiculous to lock someone up for 20 years, or execute them for smuggling marijuana.
But today, when I was doing anything normal, banal, that woman kept coming into my head, and I thought, 'you can't do these normal things, and it's just wrong.'


Sleepy said...

That's a fucking horrific story.

Schneewittchen said...

No kidding. And so random, it could happen to absolutely anyone who goes to shitholes like that.

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing about this awhile back but not in as much detail.
my god. I'm going to read up more on this. Hopefully Amnesty International is involved.
I'll be buying a lock for my bag before I go to Turkey.
- Karen

Schneewittchen said...

Well, it's a good plan Karen, but Turkey is a civilised country looking to join the EU, so they wouldn't pull something like this.