Woman sentenced to death for drugs - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Woman sentenced to death for drugs

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(AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

BALI, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian court sentenced a British grandmother to death on Tuesday for smuggling cocaine worth $2.5 million in her suitcase onto the resort island of Bali - even though prosecutors had sought only a 15-year sentence.

Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, wept when judges handed down the sentence and declined to speak to reporters on her way back to prison, covering her face with a floral scarf. She had claimed in court that she was forced into taking the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children.

Indonesia, like many Asian countries, is very strict on drug crimes, and most of the more than 40 foreigners on its death row were convicted of drug charges.

Sandiford's lawyer said she would appeal. Appeals take several years, and the country has not carried out an execution since 2008, when 10 people were put to death.

A verdict is expected in the trial of Sandiford's alleged accomplice, British man Julian Anthony Pounder, on Wednesday. He is accused of receiving the drugs in Bali, which has a busy bar and nightclub scene where party drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy are bought and sold between foreigners. Two other British citizens and an Indian have already been convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with the bust.

In its verdict, a judge panel at the Denpasar District Court concluded that Sandiford had damaged the image of Bali as a tourism destination and weakened the government's drug prevention program.

"We found no reason to lighten her sentence," said Amser Simanjuntak, who headed the judicial panel.

Prosecutors had been seeking a 15-year prison sentence for Sandiford, who was arrested in May when customs officers at Bali's airport discovered 3.8 kilograms (8.4 pounds) of cocaine in the lining of her luggage.

State prosecutor Lie Putra Setiawan told reporters that the verdict was "appropriate," explaining that prosecutors had been demanding 15 years because of Sandiford's age.

Indonesia has 114 prisoners on death row, according to a March 2012 study by Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy. Five foreigners have been executed since 1998, all for drug crimes, according to the institute.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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