Prime Minister John Howard asked Australians to accept an Indonesian court’s decision to convict a young Australian woman on drug charges, urging people to remain calm.

Howard said he felt sympathy for Schapelle Corby but he and all other Australians had to accept the Indonesian court’s 20-year sentence imposed on Corby for smuggling 4.1kg (9lbs) of marijuana into Bali last October on a flight from Brisbane.

“It’s not for me to make a judgment, it’s not for my fellow Australians, however strongly they feel, to make a judgment,” Howard told reporters.

“She was subject to the justice system of another country … we have neither the power nor the right to intervene.”

The sentencing of the 27-year-old student beauty therapist was carried live on Australian television networks and Howard said the case had clearly touched a chord in the national psyche.

“As the father of young adult children I know that many other mothers and fathers around Australia will feel the vulnerability that is felt by the family of this girl,” he said.

“The fact that we are a nation whose young travels so much makes it an issue that has touched this country very directly.

“But it remains the case that after hearing the evidence the court has found her guilty.”

Corby’s defence team has indicated it will appeal the conviction. — AFP