Lindsay Sandiford, the 56 year old grandmother from the UK arrested for drug smuggling in Bali, is still waiting to be executed by firing squad. Bali’s district court in Denpasar concluded a guilty verdict after Mrs Sandiford was arrested at a Bali airport in May of 2012. She was discovered with 4.8kg of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase, however she claims she was forced into smuggling the drugs by criminals who had made threats towards her family.
A conviction in Bali for this amount of a Class a substance would normally yield a prison sentence of 15 years, leaving many stunned at the severity of the decision. Death row in Bali is a place that is no stranger to British nationals and many others from the UK are currently awaiting the end of their sentence. It is not clear in each case whether they will be executed or returned back to Britain after an indeterminate amount of time.
The judge who delivered the death sentence in Mrs Sandiford’s case has stated that there is no mitigating circumstance that would warrant a reduced sentence. This opinion seems to ignore the facts that there were clearly a number of other people involved as well as the clear threats against her children.
This zero tolerance attitude towards drug crimes in the country is no new concept and the government are becoming increasingly keen to crack down on such incidents. Bali is a popular tourist destination and the economy is partly dependent on the income of visitors to the region. As such, the government are keen to promote their country as a safe place to come on holiday.
Julian Ponnder involvement
Julian Ponder, who was arrested in connection with Mrs Sandifords offence was given just a six year sentence despite his obviously heavy involvement. Ponder is said to be the mastermind behind the £1.6 million cocaine smuggling plan, however he has denied all involvement, pretending instead to be an innocent antiques dealer. Leaving the Bali court, Ponder boasted of his lenient sentence and appeared to show no remorse at the imminent death of his accomplice.
Ponder’s lover, Racheal Dougall, 38, was sentenced to just one year in prison for failing to report a crime and 40 year old Paul Beals, who was arrested with the others, was handed a four year sentence for possession of marijuana.
In sentencing, the courts seem to have overlooked the fact that Ponder and Dougall lived in a £1,000 a week villa in Bali whilst Mrs Sandiford made no known profit from the operation. Villagers in the area described the couple as the King and Queen of Bali, whilst the grandmother is entirely unknown.
Mrs Sandiford has made a desperate plea to the UK foreign office to intervene in her case however her lack of funds have made it impossible for her to continue a legal battle. If the British government make no effort to communicate with the government of Bali on the matter then Mrs Sandiford will inevitably face a firing squad.