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Indonesia sentences British grandmother to death in drug bust

| Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 9:28 p.m.

BALI, Indonesia — An Indonesian court sentenced a British grandmother to death on Tuesday for smuggling cocaine worth $2.5 million in her suitcase onto the resort island of Bali — even though prosecutors sought only a 15-year sentence.

Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, wept when judges handed down the sentence and declined to speak to reporters on her way back to prison, covering her face with a floral scarf. She claimed in court that she was forced to take the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children.

Indonesia, like many Asian countries, is very strict on drug crimes, and most of the more than 40 foreigners on its death row were convicted of drug charges.

Sandiford's lawyer said she would appeal, a process that can take years. Condemned criminals face a firing squad in Indonesia, which has not carried out an execution since 2008, when 10 people were put to death.

A verdict is expected in the trial of Sandiford's alleged accomplice, Briton Julian Anthony Pounder, on Tuesday. He is accused of receiving the drugs in Bali, which has a busy bar and nightclub scene where foreigners buy and sell party drugs such as cocaine and Ecstasy. Two other British citizens and an Indian have been convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with the bust.

In London, British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire told lawmakers that the government strongly opposes Sandiford's sentence.

Martin Horwood, a member of Parliament representing Sandiford's Cheltenham constituency in western England, called the sentence a shock and said he would raise the case with Foreign Secretary William Hague.

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