Schapelle Corby

A 27-year-old Australian beauty student is facing a firing-squad sentence in Indonesia for smuggling marijuana she claims was planted in her luggage.

Schapelle Corby yesterday remained sedated in her prison cell as her lawyer questioned whether she’ll be mentally strong enough to take the stand in a final bid to win her freedom.

Meanwhile, Corby’s plight has attracted support from Hollywood actor Russell Crowe, who says he was heartbroken by the sight of her tears on Australian newspaper front pages.

Her defense begins Thursday and Corby may make her own plea for mercy and justice.

Australian officials are said to be negotiating with Indonesia for her release to their custody where, if convicted, she could serve a prison term in her native country.

A verdict in the case is expected next month.

Bali lawyer Lily Lubis describes Corby as a “nervous wreck” who can sleep only with the help of medication.

“She’s still using sedatives after the trial because she’s kind of hysterical,” she said.

Lubis said the defense team would ask the court to permit Corby to make a statement during its summing up next week, but only if she is strong enough.

Corby yesterday broke down and said her life was over after Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu argued that she should be found “officially and convincingly guilty” of attempting to smuggle 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali last year.

Wiswantanu said the former beauty student’s actions threatened to make Bali look like a drug haven and could have destroyed the lives of thousands of young Balinese.

Lubis said there was “strong evidence” to back Corby’s claim that she was the innocent stooge of a drug gang operating at Australian airports.

The defense claims that marijuana found in Corby’s luggage at Denpasar airport was put there after she had boarded a flight to Bali.

While prosecutors would be satisfied with a life sentence, Corby could be executed by firing squad.

Lubis is worried that Corby is trying to suppress her grief after breaking down in a holding cell following the trial.

“She is not crying and is trying to look tough,” she said.

“I prefer her to cry, to be angry, to let out her emotions, because if she keeps it inside I’m afraid she will break down or become depressed.”

Lubis said Corby had been encouraged by Chief Judge Linton Sirait’s efforts to soothe her yesterday by saying the prosecutor’s demand did not represent the end of the legal process.

Oscar-winning actor Crowe took Prime Minister John Howard to task for not doing more to save Corby.

“The photographs of Schapelle Corby broke my heart,” he said.

“The first thing I thought this morning was, like, how can I get Johnny Howard on the phone and say ‘Look, what are you gonna do, mate, what are you gonna do? – that’s ridiculous, what if it was your daughter?'”

Crowe said Howard should point out to Jakarta that Australia had been a generous supporter following the devastating tsunami in Aceh, pledging $1 billion in aid.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia was looking at a prisoner exchange agreement which could see Corby and 11 other Australians serving jail terms in Indonesia repatriated home to serve out their time.

He said Australia was using a similar agreement with Thailand as a model.

“Under the prisoner exchange agreement with Thailand, if there is an agreement that the prisoner be transferred then the sentence has to be served as was handed down by the court in Thailand,” he said.

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