UK

Lindsay Sandiford accuses UK of condoning death penalty

  • 1 May 2013
  • From the section UK
Lindsay Sandiford
Image caption Lindsay Sandiford is facing death by firing squad

The British woman facing death by firing squad for drug smuggling in Bali has said the UK government is doing "very little" to support her.

Lindsay Sandiford lost an appeal against the UK's refusal to fund her fight to avoid execution.

She told the BBC the government's lack of help was "tantamount to condoning the death penalty".

Sandiford, 56, has insisted she is innocent, saying she was blackmailed into smuggling cocaine last May.

She was convicted in January and sentenced to death after the judge rejected the prosecution's recommendation of a 15-year prison sentence.

'Desperate plight'

In a written interview with BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire, she answered two of 14 questions sent to her in jail saying the Foreign Office was "doing all they can" not to help her.

"This action is tantamount to condoning the death penalty... The government and FCO are doing all they can to resist me at this difficult time," she said.

Sandiford, who lived in Cheltenham but is originally from Redcar in Teesside, is being supported by the human rights charity Reprieve who said she was advised by her lawyers not to answer most of the questions while the case was ongoing.

"The government has done very little to support me. The FCO has done even less," she told the BBC.

"However, I have been able to talk about my situation and will continue to do so because there are others in a similar desperate plight that are not seen.

"There are, and will continue to be, British nationals facing execution without lawyers and because they cannot raise their voices the government is standing by refusing to assist with funding of lawyers for them."

Sandiford was arrested after a flight from Thailand in May 2012 and accused of being at the centre of a drugs ring.

She has repeatedly denied she was attempting to sell drugs in Bali, insisting she had been coerced into carrying a suitcase full of cocaine by gangsters who were threatening to hurt one of her children.

Zoe Bedford, a lawyer from Reprieve who recently visited Sandiford in jail, said: "Lindsay's in no way trying to minimise what she's done.

"She fully accepts responsibility, she accepts it was wrong. She deeply, deeply regrets what she's done but what she's asking for is a punishment that's proportionate."

'Ray of sunshine'

In her interview with the BBC, Sandiford said she was grateful for all the donations and "uplifting" messages of support she had received in jail.

Sandiford has so far raised more than £10,000 to fund her legal challenges.

"In my darkest hour, this was like a ray of sunshine. I was beginning to feel that my situation was unbearable. I felt totally stranded and alone. The public's caring has shown just how wrong you can be," she said.

"I am blessed to know my family loved me whatever."

Referring to a website that allows unsolicited online donations, she said: "JustGiving has shown me that you're never alone. People really do care when they know."

Sandiford is taking her case to the Supreme Court after losing an earlier appeal against her death sentence.

If she loses, she can seek a judicial review. After that, only the country's president can grant her a reprieve.

Reprieve said the deadline for lodging the next stage of her appeal is early next week.

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