British grandmother facing 15-year drug trafficking prison term in Bali 'feared for children'

Lindsay Sandiford was arrested in May when customs officials found 10.6lb of cocaine sown into the lining of her suitcase as she arrived in Indonesia

A British woman on trial in Indonesia for drug trafficking told a court today that she became involved only because “the lives of my children were in danger”.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, originally from Redcar, Teesside, was arrested in May after police in Bali said they found 10.6lb of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase.

In her witness statement, she said: "I would like to begin by apologising to the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian people for my involvement.

"I would never have become involved in something like this but the lives of my children were in danger and I felt I had to protect them."

Prosecutors in the Bali court have already said they are seeking a 15-year prison term, a lesser sentence than the maximum penalty for drug trafficking which is death.

During the hearing today Mrs Sandiford's lawyer read out a statement from her son which said: "I love my mother very much and have a very close relationship with her.

"I know that she would do anything to protect me. I cannot imagine what I would do if she was sentenced to death in relation to these charges."

This hearing was postponed from last week because an interpreter was not available.

A statement by Jennifer Fleetwood, an expert on the coercion of women in the international drug trade, was also read out.

It said that in Dr Fleetwood's opinion Mrs Sandiford was threatened and coerced into acting as a drugs courier.

The next hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Reprieve, a charity which seeks to enforce human rights for prisoners, said Mrs Sandiford was targeted by drug traffickers.

Spokeswoman Harriet McCulloch said: "Lindsay was targeted by drug traffickers who exploited her vulnerability and made threats against her children.

"Following her arrest, she was interrogated by the Indonesian police without a translator, legal representation or the assistance of the British Embassy for 10 days.

"We hope that the judges take all of this into consideration when handing down their verdict."

PA

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