Schapelle Corby, an Australian surfer convicted for trafficking drugs to Indonesia in 2004, has opened an Instagram account less than 24 hours after returning home. She has already amassed more than 100,000 followers on the social media platform.
The 39-year-old was sentenced to 20 years in a Balinese prison in 2004. However, her sentence was commuted, and Corby was released after spending nearly 10 years in jail.
Schapelle Corby’s first Instagram post featured her dogs named Luna and May. Her second post thanked her “Bali family.” The posts have since gotten more than 7,000 likes.
A gang of reporters mobbed her upon her arrival in Brisbane on Sunday. Corby, then 27, made headlines after she was arrested at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar for smuggling about 4.2 kilograms of marijuana. Although she maintained her innocence, Indonesian officials say the stash was found in her bag.
In 2005, Corby’s defense team argued in court that she was just a surfer visiting the country for its beaches, not a drug trafficker. Her lawyers stressed that the Gold Coast native was a victim of a large drug-trafficking outfit running baggage handling scheme, ABC Australia reported. Despite their pleas, Corby was found guilty of drug trafficking charges and sentenced to 20 years in jail. The court also slapped her with a $13,000 fine.
Schapelle Corby’s case was closely followed in Australia where some felt she was a victim. For most Australians, her case had confirmed their fears and stereotypes about South-east Asia and its stringent drug laws. Her supporters are said to affectionately refer to her as “Our Schapelle.”
— Mark Burrows (@MarkWBurrows) May 27, 2017
“There’s not very many Australian drug traffickers that you could say are media stars,” Anthony Lambert, a Macquarie University cultural studies lecturer, told the New York Times.
“She’s a celebrity prisoner, which is a relatively new phenomenon.”
“I think half of the population saw themselves in her, saw her in a bad situation in no fault of their own,” Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne said.
“I think the other half looked down at her, saw her as the equivalent of white trash.”
Schapelle Corby conducted interviews in prison and even published a memoir detailing her thoughts. The former beauty student reportedly tried to overturn her sentence without success. She eventually exhausted all avenues of appeal open to her under Indonesian laws.
However, in 2012, Indonesia’s former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reduced Corby’s prison term by five years. The reduction of her sentence came after her application for clemency was approved.
Corby was granted parole shortly after her sentence was shortened. According to Indonesian authorities, her parole application was approved on the count of good behavior and the fact that she had served more than two-thirds of her sentence. However, there have been talks that the South-east Asian government caved into relentless diplomatic pressures from their Australian counterparts.
Under the conditions of her parole, Schapelle Corby was not allowed to leave Indonesia until the end of her initial sentence. She moved in with her sister, Mercedes, who lived in an area in Kuta popular among tourists.
Corby’s ordeal in Indonesia came to an end this week. Australian television channels have been running stories her return home. Some social media users have lambasted the media for focusing on her.
Schapelle Corby is our generations Ned Kelly
— Aunty Donna (@AuntyDonnaBoys) May 26, 2017
— TT Blues (@lilzouzouni) May 26, 2017
Dear media, You are clogging up tv, radio, print and internet with #schapellecorby. No one is fascinated or cares. Stop forcing her on us.
— Philip Bailey (@iamphilipbailey) May 26, 2017
#SchapelleCorby WHY is Australian media spending so much time on Schapelle Corby release ? Who cares ? I don't .
— woodsman (@JohnHume9) May 27, 2017
Meanwhile, Schapelle Corby has landed in another controversy as she was caught by the media holding a bag with a picture of a missing child above her head when she left her sister’s home in Indonesia. The bag also featured the words “where’s William Tyrrell?”
The family of the missing 3-year-old William Tyrrell has taken to social media to express their disapproval of Corby’s move.
“In using her release as a convicted offender from Bali as a media opportunity to increase awareness that William is still missing, we are not happy,” a statement posted by the family on Facebook reads.
[Featured Image by Firdia Lisnawati/AP Images]