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Lindsay Sandiford, British Grandmother, Sentenced To Death For Drug Trafficking In Indonesia

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British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford has been sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

Sandiford, originally from Redcar in Teesside, was arrested in May after police in Bali said they found 10.6lb of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We can confirm that a British national is facing the death penalty in Indonesia.

lindsay sandiford

Lindsay Sandiford arrives at a courthouse in Denpasar, Bali island, Indonesia

"We remain in close contact with that national and continue to provide consular assistance.

"The UK remains strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances."

Sandiford, 56, was sentenced after being found guilty of violating the country's strict drug laws by the Denpasar District Court.

In the court's verdict, a judge panel headed by Amser Simanjuntak, concluded that Sandiford has damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's programme of drug annihilation.

The cocaine she smuggled was worth around $2.5 million, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors had said during the trial last month that they were seeking a 15-year prison term, and not pursuing the maximum penalty for drug trafficking which is death.

Sandiford previously told the court she became involved only because "the lives of my children were in danger".

lindsay sandiford

Lindsay Sandiford reacts as her interpreter (L) looks on during her trial

In her witness statement, she said: "I would like to begin by apologising to the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian people for my involvement.

"I would never have become involved in something like this but the lives of my children were in danger and I felt I had to protect them."

During the trial Sandiford's lawyer read out a statement from her son which said: "I love my mother very much and have a very close relationship with her.

"I know that she would do anything to protect me. I cannot imagine what I would do if she was sentenced to death in relation to these charges."

Sandiford's MP said he would seek to raise her sentence with foreign secretary William Hague during Foreign Office Questions in the House of Commons.

Martin Horwood, Lib Dem MP for Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, where she previously lived, said the sentence came as a shock to a lot of people, as Indonesian prosecutors had not sought it.

"The days of the death penalty ought to be past. This is not the way that a country that now values democracy and human rights should really be behaving," he told BBC News.

"I imagine all those who know Lindsay will be extremely worried and concerned about this development.

"When the prosecutors asked for something less than the death sentence, for a custodial sentence, then I guess I'm afraid some of us perhaps relaxed a little and this has come as a real shock that the judges have actually delivered a sentence which is obviously much, much harsher than the one that was actually requested by prosecutors."

He added: "I will be seeking to raise it (with William Hague) and to ask for him to reiterate Britain's long-standing opposition to the death penalty and to really say that Indonesia's progress towards democracy and human rights is one that we celebrate but this is completely out of step with that process."

A university professor and expert on women in the international drug trade who submitted expert evidence during the trial said she was shocked by the "completely disproportionate" sentence.

Jennifer Fleetwood, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent, said it was very likely that Sandiford had been coerced into acting as a drug mule.

"The prosecution had asked for 15 years, which I considered to be high but not unexpected, so it's very surprising that the judge has imposed a punishment higher than what the prosecution asked for," she said.

"Everyone involved is very shocked. We thought 15 years would be the maximum. I reviewed evidence from the case and her testimony suggests that she worked as a drug mule.

"They take the risk, sometimes they make money, but if they are being threatened they may well get nothing.

"I have spoken to drug traffickers and drug mules and everyone says the role is minor. They often won't know what it is they are carrying and are told it is gold or money."

The lecturer, based at the university's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, said Sandiford could have been targeted because of her health.

"Lindsay has a history of poor mental health which may have made her particularly vulnerable," she said.

"She is quite well travelled as well so she had an international passport which means she could be someone useful for a drug trafficker to know.

"There appears to be strong evidence that suggests she was threatened and coerced and her sentence is very surprising and completely disproportionate."

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire told MPs the Government “strongly object to the death penalty” imposed on Briton Lindsay Sandiford for drug trafficking in Indonesia

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