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British woman Lindsay Sandiford loses appeal against Bali death sentence for drug smuggling

She claims she had to smuggle the drugs for a gang threatening one of her sons

A British grandmother facing death by firing squad for smuggling drugs into Bali has lost her appeal against execution – but her supporters said yesterday that she would continue her legal battle.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was sentenced to death by Denpasar District Court in January after she was caught bringing £1.6m of cocaine into the Indonesian holiday island on a flight from Thailand. She insisted she was coerced into carrying the narcotics and was trying to protect one of her sons, who had been threatened by a drugs gang that suspected him of being a police informant. Judges accused Sandiford of damaging Indonesia’s image as a tourist destination and weakening its anti-drugs programme.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Bali High Court confirmed that her appeal was refused last week, though lawyers said the formal judgment had yet to be delivered.

“We understand from Lindsay’s lawyer that the decision has not yet been handed down to the Denpasar District Court, so neither her lawyers nor Lindsay have been officially informed of the outcome of the appeal,” said Zoe Bedford of Reprieve, a charity that campaigns against the death penalty. “If [she has lost her appeal], we are hopeful that the UK Government will do everything in its power to assist Lindsay in an appeal to the Supreme Court, and to ensure she has adequate legal representation for her appeal.”

Sandiford will have 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court and a further 14 days to submit her full grounds for appeal. More than 40 foreigners remain on Indonesia’s death row, predominantly for drugs offences, and some have been waiting years for outcomes in their cases. Indonesia last executed a foreign convict 15 years ago and no death sentences have been carried out since 2008.

Last night, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are disappointed to hear that Lindsay Sandiford’s appeal has been refused by the High Court in Bali. The UK strongly opposes the death penalty and has repeatedly made representations to the Indonesian government on this matter. We will continue to provide consular assistance at this difficult time.”

In February, the FCO said that, under its interpretation of Indonesian law, Sandiford had at least two further avenues of appeal through the courts, as well as an opportunity to apply for a presidential pardon if these failed.

Sandiford, originally from Redcar, Teesside, was arrested in May when cocaine weighing almost 4kg was discovered in her suitcase at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. She agreed to take part in a sting operation and four other defendants, three Britons and an Indian, were later jailed for between one and six years.

The last Briton to be executed abroad was Akmal Shaikh, 53, of north London, who was convicted of smuggling drugs in China. He was given a lethal injection in December 2009 despite repeated calls for clemency from the British Government. Mr Shaikh’s family said he should be treated leniently because he suffered from bipolar disorder, but Chinese authorities said he had no record of mental illness.

Executions abroad: Britons pay with lives

Akmal Shaikh The 53-year-old, inset, was executed in China in December 2009. He was arrested after arriving with 4kg of heroin from Tajikistan.

Jackie Elliott Convicted of rape and murder in 1986, Elliott, 42, was executed by lethal injection in Texas in 2003.

Tracy Housel On death row in Georgia, USA, for the murder of Jeanne Drew in 1985, Housel, 43, was executed in March 2002.

Nicholas Ingram The 31-year-old was also executed in Georgia in 1995 for the murder of JC Sawyer.

John Martin Convicted of killing three tourists, Martin, 35, was executed in Singapore in 1996.

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