Bali drug arrest Briton Rachel Dougall pleads for help


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The Independent Online

A British woman facing the death penalty after being arrested over a £1.6 million cocaine haul has pleaded for help from behind bars in an Indonesian jail.

Rachel Dougall claims she was the victim of a "fit-up" after she was detained by police in Bali following the arrest of British housewife Lindsay Sandiford.

Mrs Sandiford, 55, was allegedly caught with 4.8kg of the drug stuffed in the lining of a suitcase as she arrived on the Indonesian island.

She agreed to take part in a sting operation in which police swooped on four other suspects after her arrest last week.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the suspects being held include Ms Dougall and fellow British nationals Julian Ponder and Paul Beales. An Indian man was also arrested.

Ms Dougall and Mr Ponder, who are believed to be partners with a young daughter, were filmed by ITV News as they were taken by police for questioning. Ms Dougall later shouted through the bars of her cell at Bali police headquarters: "It's a fit-up, get us a decent lawyer."

Customs officials told ITV News that Mrs Sandiford may be spared the death sentence because she helped to catch three other members of the smuggling operation, who could face a firing squad.

Mrs Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, is thought to have told police she only agreed to make the smuggling trip because her children in England were being threatened.

She was paraded at a press conference alongside the drugs wearing an orange prison T-shirt and hiding her face from cameras.

Masked, armed officers in Kuta, a town on the holiday island, flanked her as she was brought into the room and a customs official cut open packages wrapped in brown tape to reveal a white powder.

Customs official Made Wijaya said at the press conference: "After weighing, the total cocaine is 4.791kg."

The drugs have an estimated street value of 23.9 billion Indonesian rupiah (£1.6 million), he said.

He said: "This is a big international network. The charge against them would carry the death penalty."

Another 68g of cocaine, 280g of powdered ecstasy and a small amount of hashish were also seized following the arrest of the other gang members at separate locations in Bali, officials said.