Barring a miracle, sad Schapelle Corby will spend Christmas locked behind the forbidding walls of Bali's Kerobokan jail, surrounded by killers, thieves, psychopaths and paedophiles.

This year, like the other five since her arrest, family and friends will try to provide some festive cheer in the grim surroundings. They'll swap brightly wrapped presents and bring in western treats - ham or chicken rolls, cake and chocolates - from the Bali Deli in glitzy Seminyak.

But nothing will disguise the stained concrete floor they're forced to sit on, or change the fact that Schapelle must return to her squalid cell at 4.30pm while her visitors go on to other parties.

No Christmas cheer

Lost in the confusion of her mental illness, heavily medicated to prevent psychotic episodes, Schapelle might not even know it's Christmas. Perhaps that's just as well, because this hell on earth is a million miles removed from the laid-back, outdoor family celebrations the 32-year-old once enjoyed at home.

'We were all together for Christmas in 2003, the year before she went to jail, at Mum's place,' recalls loving sister Mercedes, who has never stopped campaigning to secure Schapelle's release and prove her innocence. 'There was pavlova, cheesecake, ham, salad and a barbecue... just a lovely day.

'Now we take Schapelle little gifts, but it's heartbreaking. She needs help. Surely something can be done? It'd be wonderful if we could get her home for Christmas. Schapelle is nowhere near normal. She's not healthy. She's better than she has been, thanks to the medication, but we don't know for how long.

'She's up and down. She can shower and eat by herself now, and hold a conversation, but she still suffers from hallucinations on bad days and tries to climb on the prison roof.

'It's really sad to see her like this, and I'm still terrified she may hurt herself or others. This is a matter of life or death.'

Mercedes can't understand why there's been no official action over the bombshell report from top psychiatrist Associate Professor Jonathan Phillips, who diagnosed Schapelle as clinically insane several months ago. The doctor, a former president of the Royal Australian And New Zealand College Of Psychiatrists and a past director of Mental Health South Australia, is equally perplexed.

'I provided a balanced and sensible report that should have been of interest to the [federal] government, but it appears to have fallen on totally deaf ears,' he says. 'Schapelle unfortunately has a now-chronic, severe mental illness with very few prospects of improvement.

'The best outcome would be to get her out of Kerobokan and into a place where she can be properly treated, preferably back in Australia. I warn again that Schapelle faces many more years in jail in atrocious circumstances and without adequate treatment.

'I seriously fear for her future.This is not a question of guilt or innocence - it's a matter of humanity. I'm sure most people would be disappointed that the government is not concerned about the mental health of an Australian prisoner in a foreign country.'

Unfair treatment

Since New Idea broke the news of Dr Phillips' original findings, there has been a surge of public support for Schapelle, who is sentenced to 20 years in the 'toxic environment' of jail.

Convicted of smuggling 4.2kg of marijuana into Bali in her boogie board bag, the beauty student still faces 15 years in jail. Australian Bureau Of Statistics figures for 2008 state the median sentence for all drug offences in Australia - including trafficking - was five years. The actual time served was just two years and nine months. Even in Indonesia, Schapelle's penalty seems severe. A Jakarta Post report tells how, in September 2002, two local brothers found guilty of importing 8.5kg of marijuana were jailed for five and six years respectively.

'Schapelle just has this black hole ahead of her, in a place where she's constantly looking over her shoulder for dangers and living in filth,' says Kathryn Bonella, author of the bestselling Hotel Kerobokan, a mind-boggling expose of the prison's fetid, corrupt conditions.

'It's the law of the jungle in there. The only thing that surprises me is how she kept it together for so long. I think most of us would go mad, seriously, in a week.'

Schapelle's mother, Rosleigh Rose, who is visiting her in Bali at the moment, adds, 'It's terrible to see your child suffer like this. She is innocent. I'm an innocent person too, so why shouldn't I be able to take her place for a crime she never committed? I'm healthy, and she's not.'

Questions remain

For mother-of-three Mercedes Corby, 35, it's a dispiriting daily struggle. 'It's not like this is something she should be going through. With proper care she wouldn't be the way she is.

'Schapelle is sick, but she wasn't treated properly from the beginning. She wasn't given a fair trial, and to get such a harsh sentence... I just wonder why.'

Mercedes wants to know why three witnesses - who told the court they saw Schapelle pack her bag, minus drugs - were discounted, just because they were friends. She's also puzzled why the family's repeated pleas to fingerprint the bag, weigh it and DNA test the marijuana, in a bid to learn its origins, were ignored.

'If they really believed in her guilt, why not do it?'

Now the evidence has been burnt, there's no chance to establish the truth. Surrounded by rumours, the Corbys doggedly keep fighting to clear their name and bring Schapelle home.

'It's a never-ending battle,' Mercedes sighs. 'A lot of people say we should have shut up, but does that mean she would have received a fair trial? Do you give someone a 20-year sentence because their family is jumping up and down? Is that a fair trial?

'Of course we are going to do what we can. We can't understand why [Australian Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd isn't doing more, after promising to get justice before he was elected.'

Schapelle's best friend Alyth McComb, 30, who was with her on the day of her arrest - October 8, 2004 - is similarly at a loss. 'It's pretty sad the government hasn't done anything. What's it going to take to get some action?'

Mental health advocate Jo Buchanan thinks she knows why. She says, 'If Schapelle suffered from cancer, there would be an outcry to support her being hospitalised or returned to an Australian prison, and treatment would be administered. It appears the stigma surrounding mental illness is alive and well in Kevin Rudd's government.'

What the politicians are doing

Since New Idea broke the news of Schapelle Corby's mental illness, we've received thousands of letters and emails from our readers.

Schapelle's misery has clearly touched a lot of hearts - with an overwhelming call for her to be brought home as soon as possible for urgent medical treatment.

New Idea has asked to meet Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith to discuss the issue. Politicians have so far failed to come up with any answers.

Last week, New Idea contacted the Australian Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Indonesian Embassy in Canberra to research what was being done for Schapelle.

We wanted to know whether Mr Rudd had discussed the Corby case with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - and if there was progress on a prisoner exchange treaty with Indonesia.

A Foreign Affairs department spokesman told us, 'In pursuing its consular role overseas, the Australian government assists all Australians in foreign prisons to access medical attention if required. Due to privacy legislation, we're unable to comment on the nature of the assistance or medical treatment in a specific case.

'We can say, however, that we monitor Ms Corby's health and welfare closely through regular (at least monthly) visits to her by Australian Consulate-General staff in Bali, as we do for all Australian prisoners. The Consulate-General is also in regular communication with Ms Corby's sister, Mercedes Corby.

'We will continue to provide Ms Corby with all appropriate assistance, and if she requires medical attention we work with Indonesian authorities to ensure she receives it.

'For the government to be able to bring Ms Corby back to Australia, there would need to be in place an International Transfer Of Prisoners treaty with Indonesia that would permit Ms Corby to seek permission to serve her sentence in Australia.

'Concluding such a treaty with Indonesia is a priority, and we are working toward that with Indonesian authorities. But as Indonesia does not have an International Transfer Of Prisoners arrangement with any country, this will take some time. On the issue of clemency, we have told Ms Corby and her family that if she decided to apply for clemency, the government would support it. We have also, however, emphasised that the decision on granting clemency is for the President of Indonesia.'

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said, 'The government has a responsibility to do its best to safeguard the welfare of our citizens overseas, including Australians subject to prison sentences. This cannot, however, extend to interference in the administration of justice in another sovereign democratic nation.

'The Coalition urges the Australian government to facilitate appropriate access for Ms Corby to specialist hospital care [and] will continue to vigorously support representations by the government to Indonesian authorities urging proper medical care and treatment.'

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