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article imageOp-Ed: Lindsay Sandiford — Reprieve's latest damsel in distress

By Alexander Baron     Dec 17, 2012 in Crime
Bali - As Lindy Carty languishes on death row waiting for the Governor of Texas to sign her death warrant, Clive Stafford Smith has found another innocent victim in desperate need of help.
The case of Linda Carty has been discussed here before, both the fantasies of Carty herself and her lawyers, and the facts as documented by the appellate courts. Now, on the other side of the world, the same organisation that has championed Carty's case is making similar noises about another grandmother who has found herself in hot water by ignoring local customs. No, this one didn't kidnap a young mother and smother her to death in the trunk of a car, but Lindsay Sandiford has been caught doing something that like murder can result in a death sentence in Indonesia. Namely, smuggling four kilogrammes of the white stuff into the country.
Yes, we know the war on drugs is a delusion, even some members of the judiciary admit this now; yes, we know you can buy far more lethal substances in your local supermarket, and we know a lot more besides. We also know that in Indonesia, smuggling large quantities of illicit drugs can land you in gaol for many years or even worse. When in Rome...
According to Clive Stafford Smith and his Reprieve organisation: "There is compelling evidence that a British grandmother facing the death penalty in Indonesia on drugs charges was threatened and coerced into acting as a courier, an international expert has said."
Which begs the question was she coerced into putting on an act at the airport when 4.8 kilogrammes of cocaine was detected in the lining of her case?
This so-called expert is an academic named Jennifer Fleetwood who has spent time in South America studying drug mules and the like. She has apparently had no contact with Lindsay Sandiford, whom we are also told has just about the worst legal representation imaginable. Also: "The Indonesian authorities failed to inform the British embassy that she had been arrested – in breach of their international obligations – and she was held for ten days before anyone knew what had happened."
Oh yes, that nonsense about the Vienna Convention and consular assistance again. so how did Lindsay Sandiford come to be carrying this quantity of cocaine?
"Lindsay has always maintained that she only agreed to carry the package to Bali after receiving threats against the lives of her family. Since then she has cooperated fully with the Indonesian authorities...This report demonstrates that Lindsay was exploited by drug barons, who preyed on her vulnerability and her fear for the safety of her children.”
One is tempted to yawn here, let's not forget her initial denial, and these drug barons are? Precisely. And of course, while she is cooperating fully with the authorities now, the thought never occurred to her before.
Even if this so-called expert witness is permitted to testify, the case against Lindsay Sandiford is cut and dried. Yes, the death penalty is manifestly excessive for drug trafficking, but she could have chosen to smuggle cocaine in Britain where it attracts only a heavy custodial sentence. Or alternatively she could have chosen not to traffic it at all. A woman who can afford the plane fare from the UK to Bali can hardly plead poverty in mitigation, and a woman who puts her head in a lion's mouth has only herself to blame if it snaps its jaws shut.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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