Indonesia Sentences British Drug Smuggler to Death
The 56-year-old grandmother maintains she was forced to smuggle cocaine into Bali.
An Indonesian court sentenced a British woman to death on Tuesday for smuggling $2.5 million worth of cocaine onto the resort island Bali. The sentence seems especially extreme since prosecutors had sought only a 15-year sentence. Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, was arrested in May at Bali's airport when custom's officers discovered 8.4 pounds of cocaine sewn into the lining of her suitcase. She has claimed in court that she was forced to smuggle the cocaine by a gang that was threatening her children. But a panel of Denpasar District Judges overruled her defense, concluding within the verdict that Sandiford had damaged the image of Bali as a tourist destination. "She also didn't care that the cocaine she smuggled into Bali would have a big impact on people," Judge Amser Simanjuntak told the Denpasar district Court. "We found no reason to lighten her sentence." Her lawyer says she will appeal, but the process could take several years. The British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said Wednesday that the government strongly opposes the sentence. “We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time,” he said. Like many Asian countries, Indonesia has an extremely strict drug policy. There are currently 40 foreigners on death row in the country, mostly for drug-related crimes. According to Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy, five foreigners have been executed in Indonesia since 1998, all on drug charges.