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British woman may face death in Indonesia for drugs

DRUGSJAKARTA, May 18 – A British woman could face the death penalty in Indonesia after being arrested for allegedly smuggling crystal methamphetamine into the country from China, an official said Saturday.

The woman, identified only by her initials AR, was arrested at a hotel in the city of Surabaya, East Java province, last month with 1.47 kilograms (three pounds, four ounces) of the drug, the national narcotics agency said.

“Because she smuggled drugs weighing more than five grams, she could face the death penalty,” agency spokesman Sumirat Dwiyanto told AFP.

He declined to give further details about the woman, who is being held in Jakarta, or when she was likely to be charged.

A British embassy spokesman confirmed the news: “We are aware of the arrest of a British national… We are providing consular assistance.”

The case comes just months after British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle $2.4 million of cocaine into the resort island of Bali.

In the latest case, AR, who lives in China, admitted after her arrest on April 29, that a Nigerian had asked her to bring the drugs to Indonesia, the agency said. The Nigerian was still at large, it added.

The woman also identified two other people she had been planning to pass the drugs to in Surabaya and Jakarta, and they were also detained, the agency said.

It did not say what their nationalities were. They are also being held in Jakarta.

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Foreigners are regularly charged with drugs offences in Indonesia, which has some of the toughest anti-narcotics laws in the world, but most are caught in Bali.

Sandiford, 56, was sentenced to death in January after being caught with cocaine as she arrived at Bali airport, in a shock verdict after prosecutors recommended 15 years in jail.

She lost a first appeal against the sentence last month, and has since lodged a last-ditch appeal to Indonesia’s top court.

Death row convicts in Indonesia rarely manage to get their sentences lifted. Most spend years in jail before being taken to an isolated location at night and executed by firing squad.

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