Australian drug mule Corby closer to freedom: sister

KEROBOKAN, Indonesia - Australian drug offender Schapelle Corby is one step closer to being freed from prison in Indonesia's Bali island after officials began preparing for her parole, her sister said Wednesday.

Mercedes Corby told reporters outside Kerobokan prison on the resort island that officials from the country's correctional agency had Tuesday inspected her own home on Bali, where her sister would live.

"Officials came to my house yesterday to begin the parole process," she said after dropping off food and water for her sister.

"It's great news - one step closer to her freedom." "Our family is happy," said Schapelle's elder sister, who lives on the island with her Balinese husband.

Kerobokan prison warden I Gusti Ngurah Wiratna confirmed officials had visited Mercedes Corby's home in the tourist district of Kuta and had also visited the prisoner the same day.

"The visits were part of Corby's parole process. The officials also verified documents related to her parole," he said.

The documents included a letter of support from the Australian government and another from Corby's family, he said.

Corby, 36, received a 20-year jail sentence in 2005 for smuggling 4.1 kilograms (nine pounds) of marijuana into Bali.

Following a five-year sentence cut and several shorter reductions, she has been eligible for parole for almost a year but has yet to officially apply as she must first meet stringent conditions.

These include requirements such as getting a letter of approval from the head of the village where she would live in Bali.

She is due for a sentence remission Saturday to mark Indonesia's independence day, when prisoners typically have three to six months cut from their sentences.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, including life imprisonment and death.