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Speaking with an Imperative Sentence

Bali Court Uphold Death Sentence for British Grandmother

(4/16/2013) The upholding of the death sentence imposed on 56-year-old British grandmother Lindsay June Sandiford by the Denpasar District Court has brought criticism from many quarters internationally.

On April 2, 2013, a panel of judges affirmed theearlier sentence imposed by the lower court that ignored prosecutors’ call for a more lenient 15-year sentence and, instead, imposed the maximum penalty of death before a firing squad on Sandiford.

As reported by Kompas.com, in response to those critical of the sentence, a spokesman for the Denpasar Court, Amser Simanjuntak, held a press conference on April 2, 2013, to explain the reasoning behinds the judges’ decision to uphold the death penalty for the woman arrested with 4.7 kilograms of cocaine in her suitcase in May 2012 off a Thai Airway flight.

According to Amser, there are four main reasons why the court decided to retain the death penalty for Sandiford. First, Indonesia continues to retain the death penalty as a penalty in capital cases. Secondly, Sandiford was proven to have systematically involved herself in an international narcotics network and, as such, is a suitable subject for the imposition of the death penalty. Third, the British woman’s crime qualifies as an “extraordinary crime” under Indonesian law inasmuch as the Nation has declared itself in an emergency situation in its war on crime. And, fourth, the death sentence will act as a deterrent to the public considering importing narcotics into Indonesia.

Based on information provided by the woman, Customs officials working in concert with Bali police were able to arrest three additional British subjects believed to be involved in her crime. The alleged accomplices Rachel Lisa Dougall was sentenced to one year in prison, Paul Beales to four years behind bars and Julian Ponder to six years.

Sandiford has 14 days from the date of the Denpasar Court’s decision to file a final appeal of her death sentence with the Indonesian Supreme Court. Press reports claim that the woman has no financial resources to launch an effective appeal.

If Sandiford manages to file an appeal to the Supreme Court that is unsuccessful or, instead, end her legal battle with the Denpasar Court’s decision, her only final avenue of escape from the death sentence is via a Presidential commutation of sentence.