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article imageOp-Ed: Reprieve holds out the begging bowl for Lindsay Sandiford

By Alexander Baron     Feb 1, 2013 in Crime
London - Lindsay Sandiford is under sentence of death in Indonesia. Whose fault is this? Everybody's bar her own if you believe Clive Stafford Smith. But who does?
Whether you believe all recreational drugs should be legalised or that drug dealers should be given heavy sentences, there is a consensus in Britain, the United States and most other civilised countries that a death sentence is grossly disproportionate, even for a major trafficker. Lindsay Sandiford was caught red-handed smuggling nearly 5kg of cocaine, which makes her a major trafficker.
As the British Government is opposed to the death penalty unconditionally, one would expect it to make representations to the government of Indonesia on behalf of Sandiford or any other British national who faces execution for drug trafficking, although one suspects that after this one, such cases will be few and far between. Having said that, what else is it to do? What else could it do? Send a gunboat to the Far East? Hardly! There is something you can do though, if you are well-meaning and gullible in equal measure.
"According to Reprieve: It is deeply disappointing that the Foreign Office chose to fight against helping Lindsay in the British courts, rather than fighting for her in Indonesia."
This quote is attributed to Harriet McCulloch, who is alluded to here as an investigator, which in anyone else's lexicon means an advocate, because the quality of Reprieve's investigating leaves much to be desired, especially when it comes to capital cases. We are told for instance that "Since being transferred to police custody on 28 May 2012 Lindsay has had three different Indonesian lawyers, none of whom have provided her with effective legal assistance. The first lawyer appointed by the Indonesian police stole money from her and made no effort to investigate her case or represent her interests in police interrogations. She believes that he also bribed prison officials to get journalists into the prison and then tried to demand money from these journalists for access to Lindsay".
It is truly amazing how many of those for whom Reprieve advocates have had totally useless or even corrupt lawyers.
The Foreign Office has a blanket ban on funding the legal cases of British citizens abroad, even in death penalty cases. Her supporters have made an application opposing this ban on her behalf at the High Court in London, but it has been dismissed.
Reprieve conclude their report: "She has no money for a lawyer, and time is running out." Which can be translated as "Send us a cheque".
Even if there were no such blanket ban, it remains to be seen why the Foreign Office should fund such an obviously lost cause. Sandiford can still file an appeal in Indonesia, but on what grounds?
She was caught red-handed, Reprieve produced a so-called expert witness for her - in reality an academic who argued that she was the type of person who could have been pressurised into running drugs by mysterious, ectoplasmic drug barons. At best this sort of advocacy is wild speculation, at worst it is apologetic psychobabble. Having told the court a pack of lies and expressed no real regret over what she did, what grounds of appeal against sentence does she have?
According to Reprieve though, the British Government is breaching her human rights.
The bottom line is that like all Reprieve's other capital cases - most of whom are far worse than her - Lindsay Sandiford is a victim. Linda Carty is on death row in Texas not because she kidnapped a young mother and smothered her with a plastic bag in the trunk of a car, but because she was framed by wicked drug dealers then failed by a useless lawyer. Ed Johnson, the client who first propelled Clive Stafford Smith to fame way back in 1987, was executed because he was poor and black, not because he murdered a police officer then told detectives where he left the gun.
At the moment, Reprieve and Stafford Smith have another high profile client in Florida who is waiting for yet another appeal to be heard. Krishna Maharaj was on death row but is now serving a life sentence for a double murder. Clive Stafford Smith claims to have found new evidence that Maharaj was framed, including a handful of alibi witnesses who although they were produced as if by magic years later could not be found at the time of his arrest, less than 24 hours after he murdered two men in cold blood.
Convicted double murderer Krishna Maharaj  one of those rare birds  a rich man on death row. Althoug...
Convicted double murderer Krishna Maharaj, one of those rare birds, a rich man on death row. Although his sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment, his convictions for killing father and son Derrick and Duane Moo Young were not overturned.
Creative Commons
In December, Reprieve filed the latest appeal for Maharaj, a document Stafford Smith has the temerity to call a pleading; it can currently be found here. This is the sort of document a deranged vexatious litigant would file, not one that should be drafted by a lawyer. Its wording includes:
“Prince” Ellis - The only man on the dark side with the courage to speak out about
Kris’ innocence (perhaps put up to it by Dames in another effort to divert unwanted
Eric Hendon, the defense lawyer, had been
threatened presumably by the cartels – if he
did not “back off” he would suffer the
Pages and pages of guff like that. No appellate court worthy of the name would entertain such drivel; in all probability, no judge will even read it.
Anyone tempted to open a purse or wallet for one of Reprieve's heart wrenching appeals should have no illusions about where the money will actually go: funding spurious appeals for obviously guilty men and women or total lost causes like Lindsay Sandiford, probably with a few hotel bills and sundry expenses thrown in.
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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