02:41 - Source: CNN
Schapelle Corby freed from prison

Story highlights

Bag of marijuana brought 20-year sentence

Schapelle Corby maintained her innocence

(CNN) —  

Schapelle Corby returned home to Australia on Sunday after spending almost nine years in an Indonesian prison and three more on parole after a controversial drug conviction.

Her case riveted Australia and drew international headlines. Corby, now 39, was convicted in May 2005 of smuggling 9 pounds of marijuana into Indonesia, which has strict anti-drug laws. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but could have been sentenced to death.

Corby maintained her innocence, insisting the drugs were planted in her bag, possibly by airport workers involved in trafficking.

She was released from prison in February 2014 but had to stay in Indonesia on parole.

 Schapelle Corby covers her head as she leaves the parole office in Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday.
Firdia Lisnawati/AP
Schapelle Corby covers her head as she leaves the parole office in Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday.

’Moving forward’

Moments after landing at the Brisbane airport, Corby slipped through a back exit, CNN Australia affiliate SBS reported.

“Priority focus now will be on healing and moving forward,” family spokesperson Eleanor Whitman said in a brief statement to reporters.

An Instagram account that appears to be Corby’s shows her with her sister Mercedes.

Australia’s Seven Network spoke with passengers on Corby’s flight.

“They slept; they ate; they acted like normal passengers,” one woman said.

Some were annoyed at the special treatment Corby received, being allowed to exit first while others were blocked.

“It is crazy, celebrating somebody who’s been convicted of a crime,” another passenger said.

About 40 journalists booked a flight, expecting Corby to be on it. But she took another airline, instead.

A sensation in Australia

Australians closely followed the case for years. Many believed Corby had been set up. Some said the sentence was too harsh, even if she was guilty. Prime Minister John Howard and movie star Russell Crowe spoke out about the prosecution.

Bali is a popular tourist destination for Australians. Some could easily imagine how an unlocked bag might have been targeted by drug traffickers. Under Indonesian law, the onus was on Corby to prove that someone else had placed the drugs in her bag.

CNN’s Hande Atay Alam contributed to this report.