Britons Face Death Penalty in Bali for Drugs
Rachel Dougall and Julian Ponder are the latest victims of Indonesia's drug laws. They moved to Bali from Great Britain. They have a 6 year old daughter Kitty, who may soon become an orphan. [More...]
Last week, Bali police arrested a middle aged woman, Lindsay Sandiford (photo here), traveling from Bangkok with 5 kilos of cocaine. Facing the death penalty, Ms. Sandiford agreed to help police conduct what is known here as a "controlled delivery."
With police in tow, it took her six days to find someone to lay the drugs off on: Julian Ponder. Now police say she's just a mule and Ponder, Dougall and two others are part of a big international syndicate. Dougall and Ponder say the whole thing is a "fit-up", known here as a set-up.
After she'd been caught with the drugs at the airport, Lindsay Sandiford had offered to co-operate and, according to the police, led the authorities to the other suspects.
The sting operation lasted 6 days, a team of 20 police and customs officers put Lindsay Sandiford under surveillance as she was allowed to go ahead with pre-arranged meetings at hotels and villas across Bali.
She delivered the drugs/present to Julian Ponder. His lawyer said he didn't touch or accept the package. Julian Ponder's defence, according to his lawyer, is that he was told Lindsay Sandiford was delivering a present for his six year old daughter's birthday. When he met her to receive the 'gift' police officers who'd been watching her, arrested him.
They then searched Ponder and Dougall's house and found some drugs in a cigarette pack, and arrested Rachel.
What about six year old Kitty? She's left in the care of the maid and gardener, and if not made an orphan by the bust, is unlikely to see her parents for a very long time.
As for Lindsay Sandiford, the only person caught red-handed with the drugs, Bali officials say she is likely to avoid the death penalty due to her cooperation. She's apparently convinced them she was just a mule and she agreed to transport the drugs because she feared for the safety of her children.
The key to me is that it took her six days to deliver the drugs. I highly doubt any syndicate would leave their drugs in the control of a mule for that long. They would have figured out she'd been busted after an hour had gone by and she didn't connect with her contact. More likely to me: Ms. Sandiford is either protecting the real recipient, she was working for herself, or she was clueless as to who would be retrieving the drugs from her. Most likely it's the latter.
If a syndicate was involved and Ms. Sandiford was a mule, the only information she would have been given before leaving Bangkok was that someone would meet her and pick up the drugs, and pay her for transporting them. At most she might have a phone number for her contact. More likely, he would just have her number. So, threatened with the death penalty when busted, she had to come up with someone and was unable to do so. It took her the next six days running around Bali contacting everyone she she had ever met, hoping to find one unsuspecting acquaintance to take the drugs. And unfortunately for Ponder, that happened to be him. That Dougall had some personal stash around the house is hardly evidence she's involved in an importation syndicate.
What else do police have? Suspicions of neighbors who said Dougall and Ponder didn't seem to have a job and stayed home a lot. Have they never heard of home-based businesses in Bali?
Another man arrested is Paul Beales, a British property developer who has lived in Bali for 15 years. He says he had only met Sandiford once, and has no idea why she targeted him in this:
"This is a nightmare. I've got two little girls of four and nine and I have no idea what they are thinking about why their dad hasn't come home."
He told the newspaper he had met Sandiford only once, adding: "I don't know why she's telling these lies. Probably so she can save her own skin."
It sounds to me like Sandiford called both Beales and Ponder, and hedging her bets, asked both to pick her up.
Beales said police found a small amount of hash(3 grams) at his house and he has no idea how it got there. Does 3 grams sound like a syndicate honcho to you? It doesn't to me.
Another version of the story in the Jakarta Post has Ponder and Dougall ratting on Beales and an Indian man living on Bali who was also arrested:
After arresting JAP, who had picked up the cocaine from Sandiford, JAP directed the police to his villa in Tabanan, where police discovered 48.94 grams of cocaine hidden in a black bag and arrested his wife, RLD. Given information extracted from these two suspects police were able to capture the other two suspects the next day, kompas.com reported on Monday.
They arrested NA, the Indian national, in a villa in Badung where they found 78 plastic bags filled with ecstasy. They also arrested PB in a villa in Kuta with 3.36 grams of hashish.
Rachel Dougall was put in a cell with 15 others and last night had to be taken to the hospital. The men are in similar hellholes. But not Sandiford. She was moved to her own cell over concerns for her safety.
The police have 60 days to finish their investigation. When they're done, Dougall, Ponders and the others will be moved to the infamous Kerobokan Prison, where it will probably take 2 to 3 years for their cases to be tried. The death penalty is likely to be sought. What happens to Kitty? Does this 6 year old English girl become a ward of Indonesia? It doesn't sound like Dougaall and Ponder have any other relatives on Bali.
These three Britons and the Indian citizen are hardly the only foreigners languishing in Indoneisan prisons. From Schapelle Corby to the Bali 9, to Edward Myatt (who I wrote about in March) there are dozens of them. There's also a movement growing in Indonesia to challenge Schapelle Corby's clemency grant:
Henry Yosodiningrat, the prominent lawyer who leads the National Anti-Narcotics Movement (Granat), said he would file a lawsuit against Yudhoyono to challenge his decision to grant Corby clemency.
“The President has been being inconsistent in handling drug-related crimes. He has previously said he would not be lenient with criminals convicted of drug-related offenses, but this time he reduced the sentence of a foreigner who has been convicted of smuggling a large amount of marijuana,” Henry said.
Why take a chance you could end up like this?
There's one way non-Indonesians can avoid these draconian laws: Stay away from Bali. There are beautiful beaches all over the world. Don't let a dime of your money go to countries like Indonesia that execute drug offenders. Visit the Seychelles, Mauritius, or the Maldives, to name just a few.
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