Nun's call to avert Schapelle Corby death penalty

Sydney Josephite Sr Susan Connelly has called on the Australian Government to act to ensure that - innocent or guilty - Australian Schapelle Corby is returned home, rather than remain in Indonesia, where she faces the prospect of the 'death penalty by firing Squad'.

Queensland Gold Coast resident Schapelle Corby has been detained in a Balinese prison and now awaits sentencing from a panel of judges on whether she will be committed to the death penalty, by a firing squad, for allegedly attempting to import four kilograms of cannabis into Indonesia.

Sr Connelly, best known for her activism on behalf of the people of East Timor, said it is "disgusting and barbaric in this day and age that a 'death penalty by firing squad' law exists, and that an Australian citizen should be subject to it".

She said: "This law is out-dated and inhumane, and considering that convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir has only been sentenced to two years and six months jail (with the prospect of appeal) for his proven 'conspiracy' participation in the Bali bombings that killed 183 people, in the same country, it is inconsistent and absurd that another person should face the death penalty for allegedly smuggling cannabis into the country."

Sr Connelly said that the Australian Government and airlines should be taking more responsibility for the incident, as "it is the fault of the Australian airlines/airport that the drugs even left Australia in the first place".

Corby's defence - and the weight of public opinion in Australia - claims that the drugs were planted in her bag by unscrupulous airline staff, for transit within Australia, but were not removed as intended.

Sr Connelly is circulating a petition to be sent to the Australian Government.

The Church's opposition to the death penalty has been highlighted this week with the death of Pope John Paul II, who condemned the practice alongside abortion and other manifestations of what he called the "culture of death".

Following representation in 1997 from Sr Helen Prejean, the nun who inspired 'Dead Man Walking', Pope John Paul II removed from the Catholic Catechism a "loophole" reference justifying the death penalty in certain circumstances. When he visited the United States two years later, he denounced the death penalty as "cruel and unnecessary."

Schapelle Corby Petition
Justice for Schapelle Corby (Sr Susan Connelly 7/4/05)
Corby family critical of Govt support (ABC News 7/4/05)
Pope's Influence On Death Penalty (CBS/The Nation 4/4/05)

8 Apr 2005