Schapelle Corby was deported to Australia after completing twelve-and-a-half-year sentence for smuggling marijuana to Indonesia in 2004. Her arrest had sparked diplomatic tensions between Jakarta and Canberra.

Schapelle Corby (R) is escorted by police after reporting to a parole office before her deportation to Australia.
Schapelle Corby (R) is escorted by police after reporting to a parole office before her deportation to Australia.

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby arrived in Australia on Sunday after completing a twelve-and-a-half-year sentence for smuggling marijuana to Indonesia, a case which received huge media attention and soured ties between the two countries.

Corby landed at Brisbane International Airport with her sister Mercedes Corby and a bodyguard just after 5 am (local time).

"It is with gratefulness and relief we mark Schapelle Corby's return to Australia," said family spokeswoman Eleanor Whitney.

Corby has always maintained her innocence, saying she was unaware she was carrying more than 4kg of marijuana in a boogie board bag when she arrived in Bali in late 2004.

Journalist Karen Middleton has more details.

Diplomatic strains between Indonesia and Australia

Her story captivated Australia, hogging headlines and prime time television for months, and initially putting strain on diplomatic ties between Australia and Indonesia.

Corby's case and that of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested in 2005 on charges of smuggling heroin from Indonesia into Australia had enormous resonance as a domestic political issue in Australia.

Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in 2015 and, under Indonesia's strict drug laws, Corby could have faced the death penalty for trafficking.

Indonesia's justice system was vilified in parts of the Australian media, while the Indonesian embassy and officials were sent death threats, including bullets and a white powder in an envelope in 2005.

Adding to the drama and public interest, the court hearings were broadcast live and included emotional outbursts from Corby and her family when she received a 20-year sentence.

"Australians became so besotted with the case," said Janine Hosking, who made the documentary "Ganja Queen" about Corby's case. "She doesn't look like how we would imagine a drug trafficker to look; she looks like the girl next door."

Clemency after good behaviour

Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono granted Corby's clemency plea in 2012, reducing her sentence by five years because of good behaviour.

Under her parole conditions, Corby had to keep in close contact with correctional officers while living at the Bali home of her sister Mercedes, trying to stay out of the public eye as the media tracked her every move.

She joined Instagram on Saturday, quickly gaining nearly 95,000 followers, and posted photos and video of her final parole meeting and chaotic scenes as she was escorted from her villa in Kuta to Bali's Ngurah Rai airport.

Source: Reuters