Bali court sentences British drug smuggler to death

Last updated 10:13 23/01/2013
Reuters

An Indonesian court sentenced British national Lindsay Sandiford to death for smuggling more than US$2.5 million worth of cocaine into Bali. Lindsey Parietti reports.

lindsay sandiford
DEATH SENTENCE: Briton Lindsay Sandiford has been given the death sentence in Indonesia for smuggling drugs in from Bangkok.

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The British government has condemned the death sentence handed down to a woman from the UK convicted of smuggling 4.8 kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia last year.

The sentence, handed down in Bali, shocked Lindsay Sandiford, 56, her lawyers and onlookers, because prosecutors had asked for a 15-year jail sentence, and because her four co-accused were let off with much lighter penalties.

Sandiford said nothing when the verdict was handed down but was seen later huddled in the rear of her court cell.

UK Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said the government objected to the sentence and appeal options were open to Sandiford, the BBC reported.

Swire told the Commons "repeated representations" had been made to the Indonesian authorities.

Sandiford claimed she had smuggled the drugs only because one of her co-accused, Julian Ponder, had threatened to kill her son.

She helped police by allowing them to watch her deliver the drugs, and leading them to the co-accused.

But I Gusti Agung Bagus Wijaya Adi, a member of the three-judge panel at the Denpasar District Court, said ''aggravating circumstances'' justified the death penalty.

Sandiford had refused to admit the cocaine had belonged to her (she said it belonged to Ponder), she had given ''twisted and convoluted testimony'', and had shown no remorse, he said.

When the chief judge, Amser Simanjuntak, read out the death penalty, Sandiford looked directly at him, but looked as though she was holding back tears.

Sandiford's lawyer, Esra Karo Karo, said the judges had ignored Sandiford's pleas. ''We never expected this,'' he said.

Prosecutors had told the court last month that they were calling for a relatively light 15-year sentence because Sandiford had behaved politely during the case and had admitted her crime.

Sandiford was arrested in May when a large package of cocaine was discovered in the lining of her suitcase. After being caught by police, she agreed to deliver the drug-stuffed package to her fellow British citizen Ponder.

The delivery led police to Ponder, whom Sandiford accused of being the ringleader. Rachel Dougall, Paul Beales and an Indian citizen, Nandagopal Akkineni were also arrested.

All but Ponder have been given light sentences.

Dougall will spend one year in prison for failing to report the presence of an illegal drug.

Beales has been jailed for four years for possession of 3.6 grams of hashish and Akkineni will serve five years for possession.

Ponder has not yet been sentenced but prosecutors have asked for seven years, also for possession relating to drugs found at his house during a police raid.

It leaves Sandiford as the only one of the group prosecuted over the cocaine delivery.

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