The only female member of the “Bali Nine” heroin-trafficking gang will be freed from an Indonesian prison next week, a corrections official said on Monday, after serving 13 years in a case that caused a diplomatic furore.
Australian Renae Lawrence, 41, was arrested in 2005 after she was caught with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin strapped to her body as she tried to fly out of the international airport on the holiday island of Bali.
Lawrence was sentenced to life imprisonment, but her sentence was later reduced to 20 years and then further reduced due to good behaviour.
“She will be released on November 21,” Made Suwendra, head of the Bangli prison on Bali where Lawrence is incarcerated, told AFP.
“(Lawrence) is a nice person. Accommodating, easy to work with and be friends with. There have been no problems since she’s been here.” It is likely that Lawrence will be deported shortly after her prison release. She will be the only member of the Bali Nine to win their freedom so far.
Gang ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed by firing squad in 2015, sparking a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia, which has some of the world’s strictest drug laws including the death penalty.
In June, another Bali Nine member Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen died in prison from stomach cancer, while the remaining five are currently serving life sentences.
Some critics have lashed out at the Australian police for tipping off their Indonesian counterparts about the gang and putting its members at risk of execution in Indonesia.
High-profile cases like that of Australian Schapelle Corby, who spent more than nine years behind bars for smuggling marijuana into Bali, have stoked concern that Indonesia is becoming a destination for trafficked drugs.
Corby was deported in 2017 after several years of parole.