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Anger over 'sick' Bali prison tours
CINDY WOCKNER in Bali and PAUL WESTON - 12mar06

GHOULISH Aussie tourists are flocking to the jail housing convicted drug smugglers Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.

Friends and authorities are outraged that the jail has become a "sick" must-see tourist attraction.

"It's cruel. It's nasty. She's suffered enough. Schapelle is not a freak show," Corby Supporters Club spokeswoman Rachelle Hamilton said yesterday.

Bali-based Australian pastor Ed Trotter, who regularly visits and provides spiritual counselling to the Australians, has watched the rising number of jail tourists with alarm.

"If they are coming to visit for the right reasons it's fine but some of it is celebrity voyeurism," he said.

Queensland Prisoners Legal Service co-ordinator Susan Bothmann said the tours were potentially a threat to Corby's mental health because they treated her like she was a "monkey in a zoo".

"One of the significant things about being in jail is your autonomy is removed from you. If you are an object of ridicule, it can have a serious emotional impact on you," Ms Bothmann said.

With armed guards at the front and razor-wire around the top fence, Bali's Kerobokan Jail is an unlikely tourist destination.

But with 10 Australians locked up inside, including two on Death Row, it has taken on a reputation as a macabre attraction on the Indonesian holiday island.

Almost daily now, guards say, Australian tourists drop by with their video and still cameras to record the place that has become home to Corby and the Bali Nine heroin smugglers.

This week, one guard said the tourists usually stop for a few minutes – long enough to have a quick walk around the front entrance and take some shots.

The daily procession has seen the jail labelled Bali's version of London's Abbey Road, where tourists flock to recreate the famous Beatles album cover.

One of the police guards said that only this week a pair of Australian prison warders had turned up asking for a tour of the prison.

And recently, some Australian warders managed to get inside to the visiting area but were given short shrift when the true nature of their visit was realised.

In her early days in jail, Corby, 28, happily accepted tourist visitors, but stopped the practice as her verdict last year moved closer.

Her family said the convicted marijuana smuggler distrusted some people's motives. She believed some visitors could be journalists or people working for them.

Even then it was too late. One of the visitors was a man later alleged to be a drug dealer. Photographs of the pair together in the jail visiting area were later seized during a police raid of the man's home.

Corby now does not accept unsolicited visits from anyone she does not know. However, members of the Bali Nine have been known to see tourists.

Access to Kerobokan Jail, which houses 800 prisoners, has been tightened recently after drugs were seized and a guard arrested for dealing.

Brisbane woman Vicki Czugaj, whose son Michael, 20, is serving a life term for his role as a Bali Nine mule, said although tourists could be invasive, she had met people who were genuinely concerned for the welfare of the Australians.

"It depends on their attitude and why they're going there," Mrs Czugaj said.

She said Michael did see tourists who turned up to visit but if he decided their motives were not honourable he could refuse to see them.



Schapelle Corby Case Information

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