A member of the Spirit of Schapelle forum [www.spiritofschapelle.com] 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
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
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
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 :
Editor in Chief
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 freeschapelle.net: Nightmares at a few minutes to midnight, January
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 freeschapelle.net: Day of reckoning: Corby faces court, January 28,
Secondly, the following facts also prevented Ms Corby from mounting a
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.
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