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Bali Nine drug smuggler set for release

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Australian Bali Nine member Renae Lawrence, set to be freed from jail after serving 13 years for drug smuggling, will be able to apply to return to Indonesia, a government official says.

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The official told AAP it was expected that, if Lawrence fulfilled certain conditions, she could be allowed to come back to the sprawling archipelago in April next year.

Lawrence, 41, would have to guarantee to be law-abiding in order to have her name removed from an entry blacklist maintained by immigration officials involved in crime prevention.

Lawrence is expected to fly back to Australia tonight.

She was arrested at Bali’s main airport in April 2005 with 2.7 kilograms of heroin strapped to her body as part of a bid to smuggle a total of eight kilograms of heroin into Australia.

The former panelbeater from Newcastle in NSW has been held in three different Bali prisons. The most recent was Bangli Prison, in mountainous eastern Bali, where local and foreign media crews have gathered.

Prison Governor Made Suwendra has described Lawrence as a co-operative and quiet inmate who made friends with other prisoners and contributed to communal life in the penal institution, which is next to rice fields.

Lawrence is being allowed to take personal possessions, and handicrafts she made inside Bangli, back to Australia.

Her mother, Bev Waterman, is already in Bali and will accompany her on the flight home.

Members of the media at Bangli Prison are waiting for Renae Lawrence to emerge through prison gates, decorated by Balinese spirit guardian statues, for a 90-minute road trip to the island’s capital, Denpasar.

It is not yet clear whether officials will make public her specific flight details.

A local doctor who visits Bangli prison is reported to have prescribed anti-depressants to help Lawrence cope with anxiety ahead of her long-awaited chance for a new start in life.

When she returns, Lawrence is facing two arrest warrants from NSW Police that have been outstanding since 2005. One warrant alleges she was involved in a high-speed chase in a stolen car.

But NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has indicated a deal with her lawyers was more likely than handcuffs on the tarmac.

Today, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he had no sympathy for Lawrence and rejected suggestions she should be shown leniency.

“If you commit that offence, there is a heavy penalty to pay, and it doesn’t give you credit when you get back to Australia,” he told Sky News.

Five other Bali Nine members remain imprisoned in Bali, one died from cancer in May and the other two, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed by firing squad in 2015.

-AAP

 

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