Indonesia to execute British woman for drug smuggling
BALI, Indonesia - Lindsay Sandiford, a British grandmother sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Indonesia, now faces a firing squad after her final appeal was rejected by the country's highest c
BALI, Indonesia – Lindsay Sandiford, a British grandmother sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Indonesia, now faces a firing squad after her final appeal was rejected by the country’s highest court.
Lindsay Sandiford’s only hope now is for clemency from the country’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has pardoned four drug dealers on death row since he came to power in 2004.
However, he has also made it clear that he routinely turns down most “almost all” such requests on behalf of foreign nationals, saying that Indonesians do not get such leniency.
Sandiford, 57, was arrested in May last year after cocaine valued at around £2.4 million (£1.6 million) was found during a routine check of her suitcase as she arrived on a flight into the holiday island of Bali. She had come in from Bangkok in Thailand, and was accused by police of being at the centre of a drug ring involving three other Britons.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel at the supreme court in Jakarta unanimously rejected her appeal. It backed an earlier decision, taken by the Denpasar district court in Bali, which sentenced her to death, and a separate ruling by the island’s high court, which rejected her first appeal.
“The decision is unanimous,” said the panel’s chief judge, Artidjo Alkostar, adding that there was “no dissenting opinion”.
Sandiford now has the option of a judicial review into her case, but that would require fresh evidence to be brought before it would be granted. In the absence of that, her next and possibly final legal step will be to seek a pardon from the presidential office.
Five foreigners have been executed in Indonesia since 1998, all for drug crimes. While there have been no executions since 2008, when ten people were put to death, Mr Yudhoyono, a retired army general, has made it clear that he does not like to interfere in his country’s justice system.
In a televised speech in 2011, he said: “‘I often receive requests from many countries, be they directly or indirectly communicated, be they written or not written.
“My answer is that law is supreme above everything else. I turn down almost all requests of pardon and acquittal from the death sentence. It is for the sake of justice. Our fellow countrymen get death sentence for heavy crimes.”
Convicts given the death penalty for drugs offences in Indonesia generally face a long wait in jail before being taken to a remote, undisclosed location at night and executed by firing squad.
Sandiford, from Redcar in Teesside, insists that she was set up and was forced by a gang to smuggle drugs to protect her children.
Her alleged accomplice, Julian Ponder, 43, from Brighton, was jailed for six years after being cleared of smuggling but convicted of possessing cocaine. His partner, Rachel Dougall, 38, from Brighton, received a one-year jail sentence, while Paul Beales, a long-time Bali resident, was sentenced to four years in jail for possession of hashish.
A British grandmother facing the firing squad for smuggling drugs into Bali could be sent home if the Government agrees to extradite a tycoon wanted over a £900 million banking scandal.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Sandiford’s life could be spared as part of an unofficial prisoner swap between Britain and Indonesia. The deal involved a request that Britain extradite multi-millionaire Rafat Ali Rizvi, a 52-year-old British national sentenced in his absence to 15 years in 2010 for allegedly stealing funds from Indonesia’s collapsed Bank Century.
In exchange, Sandiford would be allowed to return to the UK to serve out a jail sentence, along with a second Briton on death row, Gareth Cashmore.
Britain has previously raised concerns about Sandiford’s treatment in the island’s notorious Kerobokan jail, alleging in papers submitted to Denpasar district court that officials threatened her with a gun and deprived her of sleep.