Death penalty gran to sue UK

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By SAPA

 Jakarta - British human rights charity Reprieve said on Monday that a grandmother convicted of cocaine smuggling was suing the British government for allegedly failing to support an appeal against her death sentence in Indonesia.

A court last Tuesday sentenced Briton Lindsay Sandiford, 56, to death by firing squad for smuggling almost five kilogrammes (11 pounds) of cocaine worth $2.4 million into the resort island of Bali last May.

Sandiford stated Monday that she will appeal against the sentence, but Reprieve said on its website that she had exhausted her family's finances to pay for a trial lawyer and had no money to fund an appeal.

Reprieve said the Foreign Office, in failing to provide a lawyer, was “in breach of its obligations as a matter of EU law” to ensure Sandiford did not face the death penalty and had received a fair trial.

“Legal action charity Reprieve, along with solicitors Leigh Day & Co, has filed (for) a judicial review on Ms Sandiford's behalf against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” said a statement on the charity's website.

“Everyone knows that capital punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment. Lindsay's poverty means that she has ended up sentenced to death after a manifestly unfair trial,” Reprieve's investigator Harriet McCulloch was quoted as saying.

A judge must now decide whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has breached its obligations and must provide Sandiford with adequate legal representation, the statement added.

On Monday Sandiford submitted a statement to the Indonesian authorities saying she would file an appeal, but had not appointed a lawyer, the island's Denpasar district court registrar Gede Ketut Rantam told AFP.

Esra Karokaro, her defence lawyer during the trial, said he had neither met Sandiford nor had she contacted him over the appeal since the sentencing.

Authorities had claimed Sandiford was at the centre of a drugs ring, which had been described as “a huge international syndicate”.

She was found guilty of carrying the cocaine into the country in a suitcase, on a flight from Bangkok, but argued that she was coerced and that her children had been threatened.

After Sandiford's arrest three other Britons were detained in connection with the same drugs ring, but two of them were cleared of trafficking charges and received light sentences.

The third, Julian Ponder, will be sentenced on Tuesday. He was also cleared of smuggling charges and now faces a lesser charge of drug possession, which is punishable by life imprisonment instead of death. Prosecutors recommended a seven-year sentence.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, but death penalty sentences are commonly commuted to long jail sentences. The last execution was in June 2008, when two Nigerian drug traffickers were shot.

Two Australians are on death row after being arrested in 2005 for smuggling heroin. - Sapa-AFP

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