UK

Lindsay Sandiford's Death Row Appeal Hits Setback After Foreign Office Denies Having Mystery Evidence

26/05/2015 19:27 BST | Updated 27/05/2015 10:59 BST

The Foreign Office has denied the existence of the “one piece of evidence” that has been claimed could clear British grandmotherLindsay Sandiford of being complicit in a failed drug smuggling attempt and save her from death row.

Sandiford was sentenced to death in Bali in January 2013 after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle £1.6 million worth of cocaine into the holiday island on May 19, 2012. The Gloucestershire grandmother admitted drug trafficking but claimed she was coerced over threats to her son's life.

The 58-year-old is said to have lodged an appeal last week based on "new evidence", despite having already begun penning farewell letters to friends and family.

lindsay sandiford

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford has filed an appeal in the hope of avoiding the firing squad

The evidence is believed to concern an alleged jailhouse affair between Alys Harahap, the former vice-consul on the island and British drug baron Julian Ponder. Sandiford is believed to be arguing that the incident led to her being denied diplomatic assistance, although her arrest, sentencing and appeals all took place before Mrs Harahap moved to Bali last year.

Mrs Harahap, 33, who was removed from her post earlier this month, denies having had any romantic relationship with Ponder, or that her behaviour had in any way impacted on Sandiford.

In an interview with the Mail On Sunday she further claimed that it was her former bosses that had failed Sandiford.

teguh harahap and alys harahap

Alys Harahap, pictured with her husband Teguh Harahap, has claimed that the Foreign Office lost the 'one piece of evidence' that could have saved Sandiford from death row

Mrs Harahap said the office had lost the 'one piece of evidence' that would have diminished Sandiford's involvement in the drugs plot, and ultimately save her from death.

She claimed that Ponder, who is serving six years for cocaine smuggling, confessed to her that the drugs the grandmother was carrying were in fact his – meaning Sandiford was a courier, rather than the ringleader.

Mrs Harahap told the newspaper that Ponder, 44, drew a picture of the false-bottomed suitcase Sandiford was carrying and had even blamed her for failing to pack the cocaine properly.

julian ponder

Julian Ponder, seen above in Bali in February this year, is alleged to have had an affair with Mrs Harahap while imprisoned for smuggling cocaine

She went on to say she informed her bosses of the information, but they failed to act on it and later lost the picture. Ponder's claims were also raised with the Ambassador, Mrs Harahap said.

However, the Foreign Office said it had carried out a "thorough search of the consulate" and had not found the document Mrs Harahap claims she gave it. A spokesman added that Mrs Harahap only "made these claims" after she was dismissed.

Time is running out for Sandiford who has claimed to be the last remaining prisoner facing death at Kerobokan prison after Indonesian authorities executed eight prisoners for drug offences last month, including ‘Bali Nine’ masterminds Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

bali nine

Bali Nine masterminds Sukumaran and Chan were executed last month along with six others

Writing earlier this month in the Mail on Sunday, Sandiford said she had started writing goodbye letters to her family.

In the letter Sandiford writes of her "imminent" death and said that there will be no warning before the next round of executions.

She said: "That means I will be taken straight from my cell to Execution Island and then given three days’ notice of execution.

"The list for the next round of executions is already being drawn up. That is why, this weekend, I have started to write goodbye letters to members of my family.

"I am out of time to apply for clemency and I have no funds to appeal against my death sentence, so the authorities can simply assume I accept my sentence.

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Death Row prisoner Lindsay Sandiford

"It is terrifying. They have already executed 14 people this year and they are not going to stop until all of us are dead. The situation is so volatile. That’s why I have to make my preparations now."

One of Sandiford's lawyers, Craig Tuck, last week said that his clients appeal was delayed - despite only having a six month window to file it - so, if it failed, she would not have been executed along with Sukumaran and Chan.

Mr Tuck said he had travelled to Britain to obtain material and consult experts. He said there is a "great deal of information" that can be put before the Indonesian Supreme Court.

Mr Tuck added: "I've been taking detailed instructions from her in relation to the coercion element, more information about the trans-national cartel of one of the Bali drug lords that was operating with her, or against her, and the degree of exploitation.

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"They are all important factors that have not been put in front of the court."

Despite last minute pleas for mercy, Chan and Sukumaran were killed along with four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian. One prisoner, Filipina housemaid Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at the last minute thanks to a confession from Maria Kristina Sergio. The group faced the bullets with open eyes, having refused blindfolds, and sang Amazing Grace, as they were executed.

Sandiford's appeal came as a Thai court ordered the arrest of Sergio, who had first hired Veloso as a maid before giving her heroin to smuggle into Indonesia, her partner, Julius Lacanilao and two others who have not yet been named. The couple have been charged with drug possession.

Sergio this week reiterated that Veloso, who was saved from the firing squad just hours before she was to be executed, was innocent.

Last year Sandiford lost a battle over a government policy to not fund legal representation of Britons facing capital charges abroad.