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Published: Monday February 10, 2014 MYT 3:50:01 PM
Updated: Monday February 10, 2014 MYT 3:51:00 PM

Indonesia releases Australian drug trafficker on parole

KEROBOKAN, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia released convicted Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby on parole on Monday after she had served nine years in prison on the resort island of Bali.

Corby, 36, escorted from prison through a jostling crowd of reporters, must remain on the island under the conditions of her parole, and will not be allowed to return to Australia before 2017.

"She will be required to report every month," said Ketut Artha, head of Bali's correctional agency.

"To control the fulfilment of her parole, the authorities will occasionally visit her home here."

The former beauty student will live with her sister in Bali, according to media reports.

Corby was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005 for trying to smuggle 4 kg (8.8 lb) of marijuana into Bali.

Drug trafficking usually carries the death penalty in the world's fourth-largest country.

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

She has maintained her innocence, saying she was unaware she was carrying the drugs.

Corby was one of nearly 1,300 convicts approved for parole last week, the Justice Ministry said in a statement, because she "fulfilled substantive and administrative requirements as laid out by the law".

A small group of Indonesian lawmakers at the weekend protested against her early release, saying it went against efforts to establish a zero-tolerance policy for drugs.

"The government talks about tightening remissions for corruption, terrorism and drug suspects but actually for drug trafficking, this isn't the case especially if you look at Corby's parole," parliamentarian Eva Kusuma Sundari told media.

The release comes at a time of heightened tension between the neighbours over Australia's handling of asylum-seekers who attempt to reach the country via Indonesia and revelations last year that the Australian government spied on top Indonesians.

(Reporting by Tommy Ardiansyah; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Robert Birsel)

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