The saga of convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has at times resembled a soap opera, and her release from jail – swaddled in cloth to conceal her face – was yet another bizarre episode.
Corby emerged on Monday from Bali’s Kerobokan Prison nine years after she went in, convicted of smuggling marijuana into the holiday island and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
More than 100 police officers turned out to aid her exit from the prison, where scores of shouting, shoving journalists have been camped since news came that the 36-year-old’s release on parole was close.
There was little to report.
Corby said nothing and her face was wrapped in a thin sarong, a black scarf and a white hat, giving the cameras little more than an outline of her visage.
It is believed Corby went to such lengths to remain under wraps to collect the proceeds of an exclusive TV deal with the Seven Network, reportedly worth as much as $3 million.
As a prison van transported Corby to her first stop outside jail, the prosecutor’s office, she was tailed through the narrow streets by dozens of jostling international reporters and photographers, some on mopeds, others in cars.
At the prosecutor’s office, where she was fingerprinted, journalists used cameras on poles to pry into the interview room, with little success.
It was the same for her next trip, to the corrections office, with the trail of desperate media again failing to capture her image.
Even the official in charge of corrections, Ketut Artha, was granted only a glance at Corby’s face.
He complained to reporters that with the media commotion, he wasn’t able to ask all the questions of Corby that he wanted, and she gave short answers anyway.
“I got a chance to ask to see her face and she only opened her cover a bit,” Mr Artha said.
After the truncated interview, where she was reminded of the terms of her parole, private vans were waiting to whisk Corby to a plush spa villa in Seminyak.
She remained there for much of the afternoon, believed to be interviewed by Mike Willesee for Seven’s Sunday Night program.
Mr Artha told AAP later that even though the Kuta home of Corby’s brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, was listed as her address for parole, if she didn’t stay there on Monday night it wouldn’t be a breach of her conditions.
“It’s possible that Corby does not stay in Wayan’s house or sleeps somewhere else,” he said.
“The most important thing is that (her location) is still in the Kuta area and any time when we reach her, she’s ready to explain her whereabouts and ready any time if she’s needed.”
In Australia, champagne corks were popping at the Queensland home of Corby’s mother Rosleigh Rose, but she didn’t speak to reporters looking on, raising speculation she also has an exclusive media deal.
Earlier she told the Seven Network: “It was just beautiful to see my beautiful Schapelle come out from those doors.”
Sister Mercedes Corby released a brief statement expressing her gratitude.
“We’ve been waiting almost 10 years for this moment – it’s very emotional for Schapelle and our family. We are all very relieved and happy,” it said.