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Corby is innocent, prisoner tells Bali court -

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Corby is innocent, prisoner tells Bali court


KERRY O'BRIEN: Just a few weeks ago, John Ford was an anonymous prisoner awaiting trial in
Melbourne on charges including sexual assault and burglary. Today, he was the centre of
international attention as the 11th-hour witness for the defence case in the Schapelle Corby drug
trial in Bali. Ford claimed to have information that Corby was the innocent victim of a domestic
drug-trafficking operation, in which more than four kilograms of marijuana was planted in her
luggage. After a last-minute frenzy of negotiations at the top levels of government, John Ford was
finally flown to Bali over the weekend. But appearing in court today, he refused to name the
person, he said, is responsible. Some observers are now questioning whether his evidence, based on
conversations he allegedly overheard in prison, will cut much ice with the Indonesian judges
hearing the case. Tracy Bowden reports.

TRACY BOWDEN: For 27-year-old Schapelle Corby, this was the last throw of the dice and the strain
was all-too apparent. The moment she and her legal team had been sweating over for days had finally
arrived. Prisoner John Ford had travelled from Melbourne to the Denpasar District Court after a
flurry of activity involving the Justice Ministers of Australia and Indonesia.

JOHN FORD: All I can say to the court is there is no way on God's earth that Ms Corby is a drug

TRACY BOWDEN: The defence team hoped his evidence would convince the three judges presiding over
this trial that Schapelle Corby is innocent.

JOHN FORD: Schapelle Corby is an innocent victim of domestic drug trafficking in Australia by what
I regard as petty criminals and cowards. My belief in that is so strong that I'm putting my
personal safety at risk over this and I'm not asking for anything in return. I want nothing for it
than to see justice done.

TRACY BOWDEN: Today John Ford named the man he believes owned the drugs that were found in
Schapelle Corby's boogie board bag last October.

JOHN FORD: I would swear it belongs to Ronnie Bagenza. Or that he at least has a substantial
financial interest in it.

INTERPRETER: Do you know that it belongs to Ronnie Bagenza?

I was told that and I formed that conclusion myself as a result of some months of information and
discussions between other prisoners and having met Ronnie himself.

TRACY BOWDEN: But he refused to name the man who supposedly put the drugs in the bag.

JOHN FORD: I'm 100% certain if I mention this person's name in connection with these other cases
that should I go back to Australia I will be killed. And very likely Ms Corby as well just to prove
a point.

It's hearsay of hearsay and wouldn't probably have been accepted in an Australian court. It's
interesting that the judges have allowed it. Probably they didn't know exactly what the nature of
the evidence was going to be, but I think it's a credit to the Indonesian legal system that they
did allow this witness to come in at a very late stage in the proceedings.

TRACY BOWDEN: While the Indonesian judges granted an adjournment to allow the defence team to get
its final witness to Bali, it's been suggested that the last-ditch, very public efforts by
Schapelle Corby's lawyers have done her case more harm than good.

PROFESSOR PAUL WILSON, CRIMINOLOGIST, BOND UNIVERSITY: My view was strategically it was risky and I
did express that to the lawyers. You have to understand that under Indonesian law you really have
to prove your innocence. You have to set up an alternative scenario about how the drugs got into
the bag. The only way I know that you can set up that scenario is hope that some member of the
public will come forward with information and that's exactly what has happened. I think that has
come because of the publicity that has been generated by both the Indonesian and also by the
Australian defence team.

TRACY BOWDEN: Bond University criminologist, Professor Paul Wilson has been following the Corby
case closely. Last week he was rushed to Bali to give evidence for the defence.

PAUL WILSON: It's very different from Australia. It's quite bizarre in some ways. You have
cameraman running around behind the judges, in front of the judges, on the side of the judges. You
have sound recordists sticking mics very close to you. There is an awful lot of noise and the whole
atmosphere is quite unsettling to begin with, at least.

TRACY BOWDEN: Despite John Ford's evidence today, the fact remains that 4.1 kilograms of marijuana
was found in Schapelle Corby's boogie board bag and the judges are looking for proof of her
innocence, not hearsay.

DAVID BOURCHIER: I somehow think that a last-minute intervention like this is not going to sway the
judge's minds. The courts in Indonesia are more bureaucratic, I think, less prone to emotional
appeals and while they do have the presumption of innocence and certainly the concept of reasonable
doubt, it's very difficult to say whether this will change their view about it. I suspect probably
they've already formed a view at this stage. This is a late stage of the trial.

TRACY BOWDEN: In this trial there is no jury. Under Indonesia's judicial system, these three judges
run the case.

PAUL WILSON: At one stage during my testimony, one of the judges asked me to stand up and to look
at Schapelle Corby in the eye. He asked Schapelle Corby to stand up too. We looked at each other.
Then he asked me to say what I think by looking at her eyes if she was an innocent person. I told
the judge and the court that I couldn't just make that judgment based on looking at her in the
face, but based on my interview with her and looking at her together with all the information I had
about the case, I was able to say that I thought it was highly unlikely that there was any intent
on her part to put drugs in the bag and she had no knowledge of it.

TRACY BOWDEN: After 24 weeks in custody, it's not over yet for Schapelle Corby. She'll be back in
court next Thursday as the prosecution presents its closing arguments. Then a week later, it's the
defence team's turn. That day the judges will indicate when they will give their final judgment.

PAUL WILSON: I suspect that she will be found guilty, but of a lesser charge, maybe, and I think
eventually if she is found guilty, and I hope that is not the verdict, then I think she will be
eventually extradited back to Australia once Australia and Indonesia sign a mutual extradition

TRACY BOWDEN: The defence team staged a mighty battle against time and bureaucracy to get today's
evidence before the court. But looking at Schapelle Corby as she watched those who will decide her
fate, all you could see was her despair.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Understandable in the circumstances. And we'll have to wait until the judges'
verdict to find out whether today's evidence was admissible or not. Tracy Bowden reporting there.