An Islamic leader has warned convicted drug user Michelle Leslie not to continue living as a Muslim if she plans to go back to modelling underwear.
But even as an Indonesian court imposed a three-month sentence which will see her out of jail as early as today, the Australian fashion industry was preparing for her return, with claims she already has two assignments booked.
Leslie’s final appearance in the Bali court yesterday was without the Muslim headdress she adopted at the start of her trial after announcing her conversion to Islam.
As she was told of the three-month sentence which will be her ticket to freedom, there was barely a flicker of emotion or relief on her made-up face.
Because the sentence was backdated to take account of the time she has already served for being caught with two ecstasy tablets, Leslie was technically free as of midnight last night.
Once paperwork has been completed, she is expected to be on the first available flight to Australia – where she says she intends to clear her name.
After the verdict, a grinning Leslie strode to the judges’ bench to shake their hands before hugging members of her own team.
Led through the media crush outside court, she said: “I am happy to be going home and telling everything and clearing my name.”
But her behaviour has already earned her two reprimands – one from Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison, who said any attempt to sell her story could be in breach of Australian laws which prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes, and one from a religious leader who said her lingerie modelling would conflict with her professed Islamic faith.
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Dr Ameer Ali said: “If she is a practising Muslim, I don’t think she should go back to her job as an underwear model – because Islam is all about modesty. “She can’t have it both ways . . . either practise Islam and do something decent, or don’t practise it at all.”
According to the Islamic faith, a practising Muslim must observe a set of rules including being honourable, dignified, gracious, law-abiding, modest, clean – and not consuming drugs or alcohol.
Leslie’s lawyers have already indicated she will claim innocence once she returns to Australia, despite pleading guilty in Indonesia.
Lawyer Ross Hill said: “There was a certain version being presented by the police to the court and there is another version, supported by fact, that we will be presenting in due course.”
Mr Hill said there were issues relevant to restoring Leslie’s reputation which would be aired but which had not been relevant to the case before the court, which dealt purely with possession of drugs.
“The plain fact is she knows what the truth of the matter is,” he said.
But Mr Hill denied Leslie’s case had therefore been a “show trial”, saying that in this case justice had not been for sale.
“Our position is that she should have been found not guilty. Our clear position is that this case should never have been brought because the police did not do a thorough and complete investigation. But all up, we are satisfied that she will be on her way home soon,” Mr Hill said.
He said that before yesterday’s verdict Leslie had been “extremely stressed” because no one knew, “contrary to reports, what the decision would be today”.
Leslie’s spokesman confirmed yesterday that she already had two modelling contracts locked in when she returns home.
“She has got a couple of bookings. She was always an excellent model and she is a woman of impeccable character,” the spokesman said.
Sydney agency Chic model management, where Leslie is still on the books, said several companies had already expressed an interest in her.
Fashion label Covers has already used Leslie as the new face of its brand.
It had chosen her before the Bali drama began.
“Whenever we’ve handed out posters and the dossier to clients, people say, ‘Is that the girl in Bali?’,” a Covers spokesman said.
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