Schapelle Supporter hits back!
A member of the Spirit of Schapelle forum [] has written his response to an article by Ian Moore [the Australian - Newspaper] which the member [Sergio] found objectionable and decided to challenge it in a reply to the editor.

His letter is presented after the article. Sergio sent the letter by mail, gave his full name, address, phone number and email address. Sergio hopes that others will benefit from reading his letter and find motivation to write their own and always include the points about mishandling of the case. Although Moore's article is not solely about Schapelle, Sergio felt he could not let him get away with his smug misrepresentation and dismissive attitude.

Schapelle's supporters must never allow a single one of these detractors to go unchallenged. Keep writing to the Government and challenge every detractor.

The Australian, Monday, 28 November 2005:
Don't blame PM for other people's sins, by Ian Moore, in the Opinion column, p. 8:

Why should John Howard cop so much flak for Australians in trouble overseas, asks Ian Moore. John Howard has copped it from all sides in the past: from the luvvies despite record support from the arts, from unionists for daring to remove third parties from employee-employer relations, and now from a group of criminals who have advanced the concept of the nanny state to absurd proportions. The belief seems to be that their predicament is not the result of their own illegal behaviour, it is all the fault of the Prime Minister. This is not some fanciful notion; this charge has come from the families of those concerned, and from the Opposition Leader Kim Beasley, no less. The problem is, they appear to believe it.

It represents a significant and alarming shift in the collective mindset. No longer do we face the consequences of our actions: do your damndest, then it's up to Howard to get you off the hook. For good measure, accuse him of alack of compassion and a failure to fulfil his obligations, and you get the bonus of media support. Take, for instance, the case of the Australian burka-wearing lingerie model Michelle Leslie, convicted in Bali on the charge of possessing ecstasy tablets. Leslie's friends and relatives have admitted issuing up to $600,000 in bribes to avoid a 15-year jail term, seemingly oblivious to the fact that in doing so they too have committed a crime. Yet upon returning to Sydney her first step was to hold a press conference and tearfully blame the Government. "What has really shocked me is the amount of anger leveled at me, especially from the Prime Minister," she said. That medication Leslie told the Indonesians she was addicted to must be powerful stuff.

Her father, Albert, must be on the same prescription. He complained about the "un-Australian" treatment of his daughter and blamed Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for taking no interest in his family.

Time out should be taken here for a reality check. Ignoring the fact that his daughter is the one who tested positive to drugs and was found with them in her possession, Albert Leslie has shifted the blame to the Government for not springing her from her Bali jail cell, as if it is responsible for his wayward progeny.

Leslie and her family are not the first. There are similarities here with the cases of Schapelle Corby and Nguyen Tuong Van, despite their more tragic circumstances. The family and legal representatives of Corby who maintain her innocence of charges of importing more than 4kg of marijuana blamed Howard for not doing enough to help, even suggesting he had placed the outcome of her trial in jeopardy. Carefully ignored here were personal representations to the Indonesian President, paying for a team of QCs for her appeal and even picking up the tab for a joy flight for a convict from a Victorian jail to give evidence on her behalf.

The case of Van, who has been found guilty, as charged, of drug- running in Singapore, is similar. He was arrested with a substantial amount of heroin strapped to his body and like all travelers must have had full knowledge of Singaporean law. Yet it is Howard who is copping the flak for everything from the death penalty in Singapore to racism, being accused of sitting on his hands because Van is not a Caucasian. Howard has done everything possibly (sic) in his pleas for clemency, short of a trade embargo, which some critics seriously suggested. He even broke off Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum talks to discuss the case with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

It is a sad fact that Van has been found guilty under the laws of a foreign nation, and even though we may disagree with the penalty, it is not in our jurisdiction to change it. Again, the core issue is not the fact that Van is guilty and will pay the supreme price for his stupidity; it is that Howard, according to his critics, has failed in his obligations to a convicted Australian criminal. The ultimate in irresponsible claims arose last week over deported criminal and heroin addict Robert Jovicic, who understandably had his application for Australian citizenship rejected. Jovicic was deported to Serbia on the grounds of his bad character and is protesting on the steps of the Australian embassy until he is granted citizenship. It may be a long wait. Jovicic has more than 150 convictions for crimes ranging from multiple burglaries to drug offences. Yet a picture has been painted by his family and some in the media of a heartless government that has cruelly given Jovicic his marching orders. Even Serbia, which had originally agreed to give him citizenship, revoked the offer. This, however, has not stopped Beazley from declaring that Jovicic is Australia's responsibility. Good grief, whatever gave him that idea? Jovicic did not embrace citizenship in the 36 years he was in the country and contributed nothing except to the crime statistics. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is telling Jovicic's family, who are demanding the Government return him to Australia, that they should bear responsibility. They should have done more to prevent him falling into a life of crime, he said. Ruddock's common sense is bound to fall on deaf ears. After all, that is not the Australian way. Not when you have a prime minister to blame. Ian Moore is a founding editor of the Sunday Herald Sun in Melbourne and former editor of The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney.

Monday, 28 November 2005
Response by Sergio :

Michael Stutchbury
Editor in Chief
The Australian
GPO Box 4245
Sydney NSW 2001

Dear Mr Stutchbury,

I wish to comment on Ian Moore's article `Don't blame PM for other people's sins', in the Opinion column of The Australian (28 November 2005). My name is Sergio Zaza and I am a 46 year-old high school teacher. I agree with Schapelle Corby's legal team that PM John Howard did not do enough to help.

Mr Moore states:

Leslie and her family are not the first (to blame John Howard). There are similarities here with the case of Schapelle Corby and Nguyen Tuong Van, despite their more tragic circumstances. The family and legal representatives of Corby who maintains her innocence of charges of importing more than 4kg of marijuana blamed Howard for not doing enough to help, even suggesting he had placed the outcome of her trial in jeopardy. Carefully ignored here were personal representations to the Indonesian President, paying for a team of QCs for her appeal and even picking up the tab for a joy flight for a convict from a Victorian jail to give evidence on her behalf.

I think Mr Moore has carefully ignored a few things, too. Which personal representations to the Indonesian President is Mr Moore speaking of? A `personal representation' implies that diplomatic discussions took place but no such thing occurred beyond the usual automatic submissions for clemency should a death sentence be imposed. All other contributions by the Australian Government, including Mr Downer's "Schapelle's life is a soap opera" remark, took place in the public forum of the press. Last April, Mr Downer said: "If there are any anomalies in terms of the justice of the case, in terms of ... the legal procedures, then we would always take those up with the relevant government." According to Indonesia's own laws, breaches of procedure have occurred in the Schapelle Corby trial, so what is Mr Downer waiting for?

By `a team of QCs' Mr Moore must mean Mark Trowell. I don't think Tom Percy ever turned up! Mark Trowell is an old friend of WA Senator Chris Ellison. Allow me to bring you up to date on the invaluable contribution of Mark Trowell QC. He flew to Bali and back again a day later; quashed Mr Hutapea's request for witnesses from Australia; called the Bali lawyers whingers including Hotman Hutapea, the man he personally recommended; made an announcement to the media that Schapelle Corby's lawyers wanted money for bribes; then disappeared off the face of the earth. Total time from Bali flight to puff of smoke: about two weeks. The next we hear of him is in the fashion pages of The West Australian last September in an article announcing the return of double-breasted suits. Mark Trowell QC "has his suits made in Malaysia from Italian fabric and orders his shirts by mail from top menswear companies such as T.M. Lewin and Thomas Pink in Britain." He says: "If you are proud of what you do, you should also take pride in how you look." He looks exactly the way he sounds.

And that convict on a joy flight that wouldn't be John Patrick Ford, the remand prisoner who feared for his life and was later attacked in prison for giving evidence? He was placed in solitary confinement for his protection.

Allow me to refresh Mr Moore's selective memory of the facts about Schapelle Corby's humiliating trial which are well-known to those who have followed the case constantly and who care about her welfare. These facts are also well-known to the Australian Government, for whose benefit Mr Moore's article was undoubtedly written.

Firstly, the Indonesian police and customs officials destroyed vital opportunities for her to establish her innocence, as can be seen here:

  • Refused to weigh her luggage to compare it with the check-in weight at Brisbane. The total weight of her luggage in Brisbane was recorded. The Bali authorities only needed to weigh the total of her luggage at Denpasar and compare the two weights.

  • Refused to fingerprint either of the two plastic bags. The Bali police argued that the outer plastic bag was improperly handled by many people - thus tainting fingerprint evidence. But the AFP argued that the bag could still have been checked for Schapelle's prints. However, the bag the defence was mainly interested in was a second bag which contained the marijuana and which was inserted upside down inside the outer bag. Customs did not remove this bag to open the seal, but slit it open at the bottom to get at the marijuana.

    "Mr Sugiarto (former Bali Chief of Narcotics) was not aware of the inner bag until I informed him," Ms Lubis said. "He was astounded and ordered the bags brought to his office so he could see for himself.

    "I told him the inside bag was not contaminated. If it had any fingerprints on it, they were put there by the drug dealers who packed the marijuana. It is important evidence. Mr Sugiarto said he would have it fingerprinted."

    That happened in the first week of January. Mr Sugiarto told the Herald the bag would not be fingerprinted because "it is no longer necessary".

    (From Nightmares at a few minutes to midnight, January 2005)

    The absence of Schapelle's fingerprints on the packages would support her account that she had never handled them. Fingerprinting may also have established who the real culprit was.

  • Refused an offer by AFP forensic scientist Professor Lynne Milne to test the drugs to establish their place of origin. The Bali police announced that they had forensic scientists of their own and they had already established that the organic matter was marijuana, so further testing was not necessary. They missed the point. Tests on the pollen can determine where the marijuana was grown. Prof. Milne is a world authority on the subject. Who knows what those tests might have shown.

    (From Day of reckoning: Corby faces court, January 28, 2005)

    Secondly, the following facts also prevented Ms Corby from mounting a successful defence:

  • CCTV tapes and airport information recorded in Australia during check-in at Brisbane were wiped before they could be viewed, but well after the defence team had requested them, denying Schapelle another opportunity to prove her innocence.

  • CCTV at Bali Airport was conveniently not operating at the time and might have shown whether she refused to open the zipper or not.

  • Schapelle's travelling companions confirmed that her bags were zippered shut before leaving the Gold Coast for Brisbane airport and that there were no drugs in them. Their evidence was rejected by the court not because they were thought to be lying but because they could not name the owner of the drugs or who put them in the bag!

  • And finally, her initial interrogation in a room at the airport, during which she was without legal counsel or an interpreter, tired from travelling, upset and afraid, was not recorded on tape either. It was during this interrogation that police claim Ms Corby admitted being the owner of the marijuana, and it was this claim that the judges accepted as the truth so as not to embarrass state officials.

    I do not understand why the media fail to mention the well-known facts I have listed above. Nor do I understand why the Australian Government has never thought to criticise the many breaches of criminal procedure ignored by both the District and High Courts. Is it afraid to be seen as interfering in another country's sovereign rights? No need to be afraid. The Indonesian codes of criminal procedure are very precise and as the rest of the world becomes increasingly aware of these codes - the Indonesians might have cause to be proud of their achievements in this field if only the codes were not so frequently ignored.

    Mr Moore's article is merely the latest in a long line of Government- approved damage control published by the media to encourage people to ignore Schapelle Corby.

    I wish to remind Mr Moore that under Article 8 of Indonesia's code of criminal procedure, the presumption of innocence prevails just as it does in our own justice system. This right also exists implicitly in the Indonesian constitution. This means it is the prosecutor's job to prove guilt. It is not the defendant's job to prove innocence.

    Lastly, I urge Mr Moore to think carefully before he dismisses Schapelle Corby's efforts to gain her freedom. If he is too timid to speak out against injustice and corruption then he should be like a doctor and first DO NO HARM and leave it to the people who care about Schapelle Corby's welfare to get on with helping her.

    Yours truly,
    Sergio Zaza
    Western Australia

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