Wednesday, January 23, 2013

British Granny Gets Death Sentence For Drug Smuggling In Bali

You'd have to be pretty stupid to not know that foreign countries- particularly Muslim majority countries- have severe drug laws, in many cases the death penalty. Smuggling in and out of one of those countries isn't something you're going to want to do if you value your life. Usually you can chalk up the stupidity to youth- young kids who think they're invulnerable and may not realize what the consequences of their actions might be. Student Billy Hayes wrote about his experience in a Turkish jail in his book Midnight Express after first being sentenced to four plus years in jail and then life, which would have had him out in 30. He eventually escaped, and that story was  made into a movie. Billy was trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey and he was a young student in the 1970s.  Lindsay Sandiford, the British grandmother who was caught trying to smuggle 4.8 kg of cocaine into Bali, is 56. She should have known better.

Apparently, she knew her punishment would be severe but she had no clue she would be executed. The prosecutors had asked for 15 years in prison, the judges handed down death by firing squad.

The former legal secretary from Redcar, Cleveland, was arrested at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport last May after customs officers found 4.8kg of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase. She was put in an orange prison uniform and paraded in front of the media, along with the haul of Class A drugs.

Police had already dangled in front of her an offer of leniency, in exchange for her helping them to net other alleged members of her smuggling ring. She accepted the offer, reportedly after considering it over a bowl of nasi goreng (fried rice with chicken and soy sauce) in a hotel room in the capital, Denpasar.

A sting operation led to the arrest of three other Britons – Rachel Dougall, 39, her partner, Julian Ponder, 43, and Paul Beales, 39 – and an Indian, Nandagopal Akkinemi.

However, a lack of evidence linking them with Sandiford led to Beales receiving a four-year sentence last month for cannabis possession and Dougall being jailed for 12 months for failing to report a crime.

A verdict is expected in Mr Ponder’s trial tomorrow. He is charged with receiving the cocaine in Bali, which – despite publicity about the draconian penalties – has a thriving drugs scene, focused on bars and nightclubs frequented by foreigners.

Don't get me wrong, the death penalty is outrageous and hopefully the courts will reconsider, but she wasn't a poor dupe who had no idea what she was carrying in her suitcase. She was a knowing participant, although she did claim the reason she became a mule was because drug dealers in the UK threatened one of her kids. She also supposedly has mental health issues, but the judges had no mercy, even after being so cooperative. Who knows what the actual truth is.

She definitely does not deserve to be executed, and there's a good chance she won't be, but the country is trying very hard to fight the drug problem on the island. They probably feel that making their laws harsh is hopefully a deterrent, though obviously not enough of one.

Sandiford’s lawyers said they would almost certainly appeal, and they may be successful – death sentences are often commuted to long prison terms and Indonesia has not executed anyone since 2008. There are at least 40 foreigners on death row, most of them convicted of drug crimes, according to a report in March last year by Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy.
She's not the only one on death row for drug offenses: there are about 140, 1/3 of whom are foreigners.

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