My Story, as published in MailOnLine on May 21 2012
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, lingering on death row in a Bali prison, today launched a dramatic new ‘mystery’ appeal in the hope of escaping the firing squad.
The 58-year-old Cheltenham grandmother, who was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle 10.6lb of cocaine worth £1.6 million onto the holiday island on May 19 2012, is pinning her hopes on a new appeal being allowed on ‘new evidence’.
But her Indonesian lawyer, Mr Chris Harno, said: ‘I am not able to reveal what the fresh evidence is, but we are hopeful this will result in a lesser sentence.
‘Lindsay is holding up but it is not happy thing to know that you are in line to be executed. She is a victim in all this.’
The appeal is expected to include reports of an ‘affair’ between another member of the drug-running syndicate and a British diplomat, which she feared could harm her own case.
Mrs Sandiford, who has previously said she would rather be shot sooner than just wait in her cell in Kerobokan prison for months or years, announced earlier this year that she now believed she would be among the next group of prisoners to be gunned down.
Her comments came after seven convicted drug smugglers – including two Australians – were shot last month, after President Joko Widodo refused to grant them a last minute reprieve, despite pleas from their governments.
There had been earlier speculation that a reported ‘affair’ between one of Mrs Sandiford’s co-accused – Briton Julian Ponder – and British diplomat Alys Harahap when they met in Kerobokan prison would have a detrimental effect on Mrs Sandiford’s ‘care’ by the British Embassy officials.
Ponder is known to hate Mrs Sandiford for helping police in a sting to arrest him and his then-partner Rachel Dougall.
Mrs Sandiford had told police that the cocaine she was carrying in a suitcase on a flight from Bangkok was destined for a syndicate of which Ponder was described as being the Mr Big.
Mrs Sandiford has told friends that she believes his reported relationship with Ms Harahap, a married mother of two, could harm her own legal battle, with Embassy sympathies being extended closer to Ponder because of his reported friendship with the diplomat.
Mr Harno is expected to add the extensive co-operation Mrs Sandiford has given to police to the grounds for the new appeal, although this has been raised before at an earlier court and been rejected.
Such is Mrs Sandiford’s dismay at hearing of a relationship between Ms Harahap – who has since been dismissed from her post – and Ponder that she has been refusing assistance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
A spokesman for the FCO confirmed to the BBC last week that ‘Lindsay Sandiford is currently refusing consular assistance but we stand ready to visit her in prison if she changes her mind.
‘It is the long-standing policy of the UK to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. We have made representations to the Indonesian government on this matter repeatedly and at the highest levels and will continue to do so.’
Mrs Sandiford’s British lawyer, Craig Tuck, told the BBC that the trials and appeals process involving her had been a ‘train wreck to some extent.’
What will be Mrs Sandiford’s final appeal will have ‘strong grounds’ for her acquittal, he said, based on the fact that she was a vulnerable drugs mule – and Indonesian law made allowances for people described as ‘trafficked persons’ to be acquitted.
‘Lindsay is a vulnerable person, she’s had mental health issues, she’s had all sorts of personal factors and features which are relevant to the case that need to be put into the mix of what exploitation occurred.’
He said that the laws of Indonesia say that if someone is a ‘trafficked person’, they must be acquitted.
‘On that basis, that defence has never been run and needed to be looked at and we’re making sure we get that position solid.’
While giving a this clue as to what the ‘mystery’ new evidence is, it is believed the relationship between Ponder and the British diplomat will also be presented to the Denpasar High Court at a date to be arranged following today’s filing of the papers.
Campaigners in the UK have also alluded to Ponder’s friendship with Ms Harahap, insisting that it was he who coerced Mrs Sandiford into smuggling drugs.
Mr Tuck described the appeal as having one of the strongest grounds he had seen in decades.