Bali death sentence woman fails to make Britain pay lawyer

LONDON (AFP) - A British grandmother on Thursday lost a High Court bid to make the government pay for a lawyer to help her appeal against her death sentence in Indonesia for drug smuggling.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was sentenced to death last week for smuggling nearly 5.0kg of cocaine worth US$2.4 million (S$3 million) on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Lawyers for the charity Reprieve, which works to protect the interests of prisoners worldwide, sought a judicial review of the British Foreign Office's decision not to pay for her legal representation in Indonesia.

They argued it would cost around 2,500 pounds (S$4,900) to pay for an adequate lawyer to take on the case.

But two judges at the High Court in London said that although they understood "the deep concerns of Mrs Sandiford and her family about Mrs Sandiford's predicament", the British government's decision was not unlawful.

Judges Elizabeth Gloster and Nicola Davies said that Sandiford's appeal had "no reasonable prospect of success" and refused to order the Foreign Office to give her a loan for the lawyer's fees.

Sandiford has argued that she was forced into smuggling the cocaine and faced threats that her children would be harmed, but Indonesian authorities say she was the ringleader in a huge international drugs ring.

Law firm Leigh Day had argued that the "government has a duty to ensure that the human rights of British citizens are protected", especially those in capital cases.

Britain's Foreign Office said the government does not pay for lawyers abroad representing British nationals, but her case was being raised through diplomatic channels.

"We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time," said a spokesman.

The last execution of a foreigner in Indonesia was in June 2008, when two Nigerian drug traffickers were shot.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.