The pretty 27-year-old, with the help of her gold-digger family and some bizarre zig-zags in the conduct of her Supreme Court appeal, has used up the vast outpouring of sympathy and public outrage that greeted the 20-year sentence a Bali court handed her last month, after deciding she did try to bring in 4.1 kilograms of marijuana on a flight from Sydney last October.
At the weekend Corby dismissed and then re-engaged her legal team. She appointed and then sacked as her chief strategist Jakarta-based Australian-born German citizen Walter Tonetto, a 47-year-old with no legal qualifications who describes himself as "an educator, businessman and visioneer." She also parted company with discharged bankrupt and self-appointed Team Corby moneyman Ron Bakir, a Gold Coast mobile phone salesman who has been stitching up business deals for her and her family.
"They're all becoming characters in a sort of soap opera aren't they?" Foreign Minister Alexander Downer quipped. "We're all watching closely and with a great deal of interest, but of course in my position I'm not really prepared to comment publicly on what I think about it all."
Privately, of course, Downer would admit that the ebbing of the tide of sympathy for Corby also means less stress in the crucially important relationship between Jakarta and Canberra.
The day the verdict was declared and a devastated Corby was shown on Australian television responding tearfully to the 20-year sentence, Prime Minister John Howard was fearful that the case could collapse the carefully crafted rapprochement with Indonesia and unravel his personal friendship with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Last month, the Howard government was in overdrive trying to placate Australian public opinion after the Corby case dominated the media. Now, the tide of public opinion has turned against the lachrymose Corby and her tacky retinue of business advisers and publicity agents. Howard is off the hook and Downer is able to joke about the real and imagined television soap stars that people the Corby case.
There is a real television star: Indonesian pop princess Anisa Hapsari, the lovely face of a public-relations campaign set in train by Corby's bejeweled on-again off-again Jakarta lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea. She went on Indonesian television, according to Hutapea, to whip up some domestic sympathy for Corby and so influence the outcome of her Supreme Court appeal.
There was huge media interest in Corby, the photogenic divorcee who, when not holidaying in Bali, worked in the family fish 'n' chip shop on the Gold Coast. There was a bidding war for her story. Enormous sums were on the table for any aspect of the tale.
Amazingly, none of the lawyers she engaged seemed to be interested in getting paid. Hutapea promised to pay all his costs himself. Two eminent Australian barristers said they would be working for free. Bakir, Corby's self-styled "white knight," pledged that he would not earn a single cent from the deals he arranged. Tonetto never mentioned money. <!--page-->
Corby's family was less circumspect. Moments after the verdict was handed down, Corby's sister left her side to do a paid interview. Her mother took an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali to attend court. According to Bakir, the Corby family earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorships and media bookings from Schapelle's misfortune.
The smell of money further dissipated sympathy for Corby. An Australian barrister working for free, Mark Trowell, publicly accused one of Corby's legal team, Vasu Rasiah, of seeking half a million dollars of Australian government money to bribe judges hearing the appeal.
"Vasu said this: 'Forget the merits of the appeal, all you have to do is put in the appeal and if you have got money to bribe the judges, you will win the appeal'," Trowell said. Vasu explained that the 500,000 Australian dollars (385,000 U.S. dollars) was not for bribes but to finance a public-relations campaign in which Indonesian journalists would be paid to write articles about Corby's plight.
Downer said the claims and counter claims, the team reshuffles and the changing strategies, had sapped public confidence and undermined the Supreme Court appeal.
"It's hard to believe that it's helpful," Downer said. "On the other hand, I suspect the appeals court judges will make a decision on the merits of the case put before them rather than on these kinds of issues."
As has been said many times, the case against Corby is strong and the likelihood is that a court in Australia or any other jurisdiction would have convicted her on the evidence at hand. In a worst case scenario, the appeal would not only fail but lead to a lengthening of her sentence.