Australian drug mule Corby a step closer to release

The corrections board on the Indonesian resort island of Bali has recommended jailed Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby for parole, an official said Saturday.

The board said the 36-year-old should be released from Kerobokan jail to serve out the rest of her sentence on the island living with her sister, according to prison warden I Gusti Ngurah Wiratna.

If she continues to receive the usual sentence cuts during her parole period, she could be free to return home to Australia by mid-2015.

Corby was handed a 20-year sentence in 2005 for smuggling 4.1 kilogrammes (nine pounds) of marijuana into Bali the previous year.

"All that Corby needs now is a ministerial decree," the prison warden told reporters, referring to the justice minister's approval that would make Corby's release final.

"It could be in a month that the minister makes his decree -- it could be longer. It depends on how quickly the application can be processed."

Justice ministry director general of corrections Nugroho, who goes by one name, said cases involving foreigners usually took "two to three months, possibly longer".

If granted parole, Corby would still be bound to the island and obliged to regularly report to authorities.

The prison had sent a letter of support to the corrections board as Corby had "demonstrated good behaviour while in prison", Wiratna said.

She has also gained the required letters of support from the village head where she would live in Bali, her family and the Australian government.

Corby has been eligible for parole for around one year, but has held off lodging an application as authorities mulled the conditions of her release.

Having received several remissions and a five-year sentence cut from the president Corby is due for release in March 2017.

But if she continues to receive the usual sentence cuts during her parole period she could be free to return home by mid-2015.

The prison recommended Corby be granted a further six months remission Saturday, routinely given to prisoners each August 17 to mark the country's independence day.

Renae Lawrence -- part of a group of Australian drug traffickers known as the Bali Nine jailed at Kerobokan -- and 11 other foreign prisoners also received a recommendation for a six-month cut, Wiratna said.

British drugs convicts Julian Ponder and Paul Beales were given recommendations for two-month cuts from their jail terms of six and four years respectively.

They were jailed in connection with British drug trafficker Lindsay Sandiford, who is on death row.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, including life imprisonment and death.