Indonesian authorities have approved the parole of a Frenchman jailed for drug smuggling and he could be released in days, an official says.
The rare approval for the early release of a foreigner will raise hopes for high-profile Australian drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, whose efforts to be freed on parole in recent months have been bogged down by bureaucratic wrangling.
Michael Blanc, 40, was arrested the day after Christmas in 1999 at the airport on the resort island of Bali with 3.8 kilograms of hash hidden in diving canisters.
“Michael Blanc’s parole has been approved,” the justice ministry’s prisons spokeswoman Ika Yusanti told AFP, but added it would take a day or two to work out administrative details.
Blanc will have to stay in the archipelago until the end of his prison term, on July 21, 2017.
Blanc’s mother, Helene Le Touzey, struck a cautious note.
“I don’t think they will back-track on this but there have been such ups and downs in this case,” Le Touzey, who has lived in Indonesia for years to be close to her son, told AFP.
“I don’t think the prison will want to create trouble. But there is so much bureaucracy and so many rules that it is hard to know where we are going and what awaits us.”
Blanc has always maintained his innocence, insisting that he was given the diving canisters to transport by a friend. His sentence was reduced from life to 20 years in 2008.
Bali’s corrections board in August recommended Corby for early release from the island’s notorious Kerobokan Prison but the process has run into bureaucratic hurdles.
Corby was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 for smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali the previous year but she has received several remissions and a sentence cut of five years from the Indonesian president.