DENPASAR, Indonesia, Apr 8 – An Indonesian court on Monday rejected the appeal of a 56-year-old British grandmother sentenced to death for trafficking cocaine into the resort island of Bali.
A spokesman said the Bali High Court, sitting in the island’s capital Denpasar, upheld the death sentence given to Lindsay Sandiford in January, which had been a shock verdict after prosecutors recommended 15 years imprisonment.
The judges ruled the original decision of the Denpasar district court was “accurate and correct,” said spokesman Makkasau, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, adding that Sandiford would be informed of the decision as soon as possible.
Indonesian police say she was at the centre of a drugs importing ring involving three other Britons after a drugs haul worth $2.4 million was found in her suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok last May.
The high court gave her 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court starting from the day she is informed of the verdict.
If the Supreme Court rejects her appeal, she can seek a judicial review of the decision from the same court. After that, only the president can grant her a reprieve.
Sandiford had argued that she was forced into transporting the 4.79 kilos (10.6 pounds) of cocaine in order to protect her children whose safety was at stake.
But the court ruled that she had not admitted her crime and had damaged Indonesia’s hardline stance on drugs as well as Bali’s reputation as a tourism destination.
It rejected the argument that Sandiford had acted to protect her children, and said there were “no mitigating circumstances” to allow for leniency.
British human rights charity Reprieve claimed before Sandiford was sentenced to death that she had been “exploited by drug traffickers, who targeted her because of her vulnerability and her fear for the safety of her children”.
Britain raised objections at the time of her sentencing, with junior foreign minister Hugo Swire saying: “We strongly object to the death penalty.”
London also raised concerns in February that Indonesian authorities mistreated Sandiford in prison, alleging in a submission to the Denpasar district court she was threatened with a gun and deprived of sleep.
Three other Britons arrested in connection with the case received lighter sentences.
Julian Ponder was sentenced in January to six years in jail after being found guilty of possessing 23.04 grams (0.8 ounces) of cocaine with a street value of $6,000, found in the bedroom of his luxury Bali villa.
He was arrested after receiving a package from Sandiford in a police sting mounted after she was caught with the cocaine in her suitcase.
Rachel Dougall was sentenced to 12 months for failing to report Sandiford’s crime and Paul Beales received four years for possession of 3.6 grams of hashish but was cleared of drug trafficking. They were sentenced in December.
Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, but death penalty sentences are commonly commuted to long jail sentences.
Two members of an Australian drug smuggling gang known as the “Bali Nine” who were arrested in 2005 are currently on death row, while the seven others face lengthy jail terms. A French man has also been on death row since May 2007.
Executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad, usually at night in isolated and undisclosed locations. The country carried out its first execution for several years last month when it put to death a Malawian drug trafficker.