British woman sentenced to death
An Indonesian court sentenced a British grandmother to death on Tuesday for smuggling cocaine worth $2.5 million in her suitcase onto the resort island of Bali -- even though prosecutors had sought only a 15-year sentence.
Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, wept when judges handed down the sentence and declined to speak to reporters on her way back to prison, covering her face with a floral scarf. She had claimed in court that she was forced to take the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children.
Indonesia, like many Asian countries, is very strict on drug crimes, and most of the more than 40 foreigners on its death row were convicted of drug charges.
Sandiford's lawyer said she would appeal, a process that can take several years. Condemned criminals face a firing squad in Indonesia, which has not carried out an execution since 2008, when 10 people were put to death.
A verdict is expected in the trial of Sandiford's alleged accomplice, Briton Julian Anthony Pounder, next Tuesday. He is accused of receiving the drugs in Bali, which has a busy bar and nightclub scene where party drugs such as cocaine and Ecstasy are bought and sold between foreigners. Two other British citizens and an Indian have already been convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with the bust.
The British embassy said in a statement that it was in contact with London to discuss the next step in providing legal assistance to Sandiford. It said the United Kingdom "remains strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances."
In its verdict, a panel of Denpasar District Court judges concluded that Sandiford had damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's drug prevention program.
"We found no reason to lighten her sentence," said Amser Simanjuntak, who headed the judicial panel.
Prosecutors had been seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Sandiford, who was arrested in May when customs officers at Bali's airport discovered 3.8 kilograms (8.4 pounds) of cocaine in the lining of her luggage.
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
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