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Lindsay Sandiford

Date of birth: 25 June 1956
Arrested: 19 May 2012
Nationality: British
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Legal status: Sentenced to death


Lindsay Sandiford is a British grandmother sentenced to death in Bali, Indonesia.

Lindsay had never been in trouble with the police before when, in March 2012, convinced her son would be in danger from criminal gangs if she refused, she agreed to carry a suitcase from Bangkok to Bali, Indonesia.

After being stopped at the airport in Bali, 3.6 kg of cocaine was discovered in her luggage and she was taken for interrogation by customs officials. The Indonesian authorities failed to inform the British embassy that she had been arrested – in breach of their international obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights – and she was held for ten days before anyone knew what had happened.

Lindsay does not speak the local language and, during those ten days, she was appointed neither a lawyer nor a translator. She was forced to sign numerous documents in a language she did not understand, and was deprived of sleep and threatened by the authorities with a gun.

Lindsay cooperated fully with the Indonesian authorities following her arrest, including taking part in a risky sting operation which led to the arrest and prosecution of three of those responsible for organising the delivery of the drugs, for whom she acted as a drug mule.

Between her arrest and trial, Lindsay had three different Indonesian lawyers, none of whom 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.

On 4 October 2012, Lindsay appeared in court without a lawyer. Her trial commenced and the indictment was read out. She faced three charges, two of which carried the death penalty. Lindsay was also unrepresented at the next hearing because she was unable to find a lawyer to assist her pro bono.

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood, an expert on women exploited in the international drug trade, gave evidence to Denpasar District Court during Lindsay’s trial.  She concluded that Lindsay was coerced and found that “there is…evidence to suggest that a trafficker would seek someone who was vulnerable. Having reviewed extracts from Lindsay’s medical records I know that Lindsay has a history of mental health issues…This may have unfortunately made her an attractive target for threats, manipulation and coercion.”

The prosecutor announced on 20 December 2012 that he would be asking the judges to impose a sentence of 15 years, rather than the death penalty. Yet, on 22 January 2013, a panel of judges sentenced Lindsay to death.

Lindsay lodged a notice of intention to appeal on 28 January 2013 and submitted her full appeal on 11 February 2013. Amicus briefs were submitted by the UK Government and former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald QC. Lindsay’s appeal to the High Court was, however, unsuccessful and the Supreme Court upheld her death sentence on 29 August 2013.

Unless new evidence comes to light, Lindsay’s last hope will be to seek clemency from the Indonesian President.

Lindsay Sandiford's case history

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