British Mule Sentenced to Death in Bali

Even though Lindsay Sandiford cooperated with police, ratting out others (who may not have been involved), and even though prosecutors asked for a 15 year sentence, a court in Bali has sentenced 51 year old Sandiford to death for smuggling 5 kilos of cocaine in from Bangkok.

I told the whole sordid story here, including how Sandiford led police on a wild goose chase for 6 days trying to do a controlled delivery and lay the drugs off on someone. Her victims: a British couple with a 6 year old daughter. [More...]

Rachel Dougall, whose only offense was a possession amount of drugs in a cigarette pack, was arrested along with her partner who Lindsay set up to receive the drugs. She was sentenced in December to a year in jail for failing to report a crime. Her partner, Julian Ponder, is awaiting sentencing. Prosecutors have asked for 7 years. (He had a around 23 grams of cocaine stashed in the house.)

Sandiford said she was threatened by a syndicate that if she didn't deliver the drugs, her teenage son would be harmed. But she left 6 year old Kitty to become an orphan if her tale had been believed. She called Ponder while with police, said she had a birthday present for Kitty and met him, handing him the package with drugs. He never opened it but got got arrested.

A fourth person arrested, Paul Beales, also says he was set up by Lindsay and was sentenced to four years. He was found with a 3 grams of hashish, which he claimed police planted.

"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."

I don't have as much sympathy for Sandiford because she tried to set up others, separating them from their children, but she should not get the death penalty. Neither should the two Bali 9 defendants. Visit Mercy.org.

15 years in a hellhole of an Indonesian prison is also excessive.

Here are the four defendants after their arrest:

And they still won't release Schapelle Corby, even though she is now eligible for parole.

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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  • Display: Sort:
    yeah, i'm inclined to agree. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by cpinva on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 12:45:05 PM EST
    bali isn't the only nice vacation spot, there are others, that don't have authoritarian governments.

    There (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by lentinel on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 12:49:10 PM EST
    is just something about a fascist state that says to me that there are preferable destinations for a vacation.

    Horrible. Despicable behavior (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:47:38 PM EST
    all the way around, that's for sure, but the death penalty is of course insane.

    It's a shame what's happened to Indonesia (none / 0) (#2)
    by shoephone on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 12:46:43 PM EST
    So glad I got to experience the beauty of Bali in the late 70's.

    And Bali is a big party (none / 0) (#4)
    by MKS on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 01:59:16 PM EST
    destination for people from the Land of Oz.  Alcohol and clubs everywhere, women without clothes everywhere,  people having s*x in all sorts of places.  

    Bali makes its money by catering to partiers.....

    This type of thing will make the Aussies, who do like their drugs, go somewhere else.

    Bali is duly stricken from my (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:45:05 PM EST
    "Eat, Pray, Love" itinerary.

    Bali has great surf... (none / 0) (#7)
    by fishcamp on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:00:36 AM EST
    just stay away from the bad places in town.  I've been there several times and never had any problems.  If you don't agree with their politics then don't go there.  I used to love Baghdad when it was beautiful but now it's not.  Afghanistan was another wonderful location but I'll never go there again.  Cambodia was great and now it's pitiful.  Laos is impossible and Thailand is not very good anymore.  Jakarta and all that area is horrible.  Hong Kong is ok but beyond expensive.  Europe hates us so I think I'll just stay home and fish when I want to.  Sorry to be so jaded.

    and yes I'm against the death penalty (none / 0) (#8)
    by fishcamp on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:04:31 AM EST
    yes (none / 0) (#9)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:44:28 AM EST
    I am against the death penalty also.  On the other hand it is hard for me to feel too sorry for people who know what the laws and penalties are and still do the crime.  ..... I won't even go in to how drug dealers profit off the misery of other people's lives and deaths.

    To me, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:00:15 AM EST
    the issue is not whether or not we feel sorry for someone who violates the law. I don't think the punishment fits the crime in this instance.

    But, as I think you know, I also think that the draconian laws that make cocaine or marijuana or even heroin illegal create criminals - just as similar laws did during the prohibition era when people were shot and killed for brewing beer.


    There (none / 0) (#10)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:48:47 AM EST
    is some strange irony in this story.

    The prison in which Sandiford is to be incarcerated while she awaits outcomes of appeals has, according to the story in the Herald-Sun linked to above, "a big drug problem".

    Unbelievable corruption on top of cruel and unusually punishment.

    If I'm looking for a beach, I'll opt for Coney Island.

    Lindsay Sandiford courted her own fate. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:55:13 AM EST
    I'm opposed to capital punishment in general as a matter of personal principle, but that said, people like Sandiford have to be stupid to so brazenly flout the laws of another country like that.

    It's long been common knowledge that penalties in southeast Asian nations for illegal drug possession and trafficking are extraordinarily draconian, and further that these countries are not exactly exemplary models of western jurisprudence. That being given, why do some visitors act as though such laws somehow exempt them from personal compliance?

    This case is really a terrible shame, and I'm very sorry how it's all come to pass. But I'm certainly not going to strike countries like Indonesia and Malaysia from any future itineraries out of some misguided sense of solidarity with western hubris and exceptionalism, which is nothing more than an anachronistic vestige of the Age of Imperialism, c. 1900.

    It is your responsibility when either traveling as a visitor overseas or living in a foreign land to observe and respect the laws and customs of your host country.

    If you believe you're going to have a problem complying with those laws and customs based upon your own established behavior, i.e., recreational or habitual drug use, then by all means, please stay away and don't go there. This isn't "The Wind and the Lion," and the president is not going to dispatch senior diplomats and detachments of armed Marines to slay the heathen and come to your rescue. If you're reckless and get caught, you will find yourself very much on your own.


    Sounds a lot like... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:05:45 AM EST
    blaming the victims to me Don.

    True every country on earth is flawed, with cruel tyrannical laws enforced in a cruel tyrannical manner, to varying degrees..by all rights every country on earth deserves to be boycotted.  But the laws of Indonesia (or the USA, pick a country any country) are the orginal sin of stupid.  Just because stupid laws are well known doesn't make it right boss, I'm sure you'll agree.  So why blame the victims at all?


    I certainly empathize with their plight. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:00:46 PM EST
    And most certainly, given the scenario that Jeralyn provided, the people who are presently in trouble can't possibly all be guilty simultaneously. Someone here is obviously not telling the truth regarding what actually went down. So, Indonesian authorities have chosen the nasty but easy road to get to the bottom of this, and have locked everyone up until someone finally does level with them.

    But kdog, nobody forced any of them to be in Bali. You and I have been around, and we both know how brutal the authorities in other countries can sometimes behave, if they're of the mind to do so. When you travel or live abroad, you don't flout the laws and customs of the host country, and thus given them reason to be a$$holes.



    who is a victim? (none / 0) (#22)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:12:31 PM EST
    how are you a victim if you knowingly break a law?  Unless you are punished well beyond what is standard how are you a victim?  If you are innocent and punished for a crime you are a victim.  
    These people aren't victims, they are drug dealers. They knew the law and they knew the punishment and they made money exploiting other people's misery.
    The death penalty is grotesque and inhumane, but they chose it by doing what they did.

    Nonsense... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:29:27 PM EST
    drug dealers are victims of the world's drug laws...period.

    You may not like what they do for a living, I don't like what bankers, lawmakers, police, gunmakers, and a slew of other "professionals" do for a living...but that is neither here nor there.  

    There is nothing inherently wrong with what drug dealers do, selling in demand product to willing customers.  The law, otoh...there is a lot inherently wrong with that mess.


    So.. (none / 0) (#24)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:44:37 PM EST
    it's alright to exploit the weak because everyone else is doing it?

    No... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:55:07 PM EST
    it is wrong to assume their customers are being exploited, like children who need the protection of executions and cages.  Gimme a break man.    

    Give YOU a break? (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:08:07 PM EST
    I didn't just fall off the turnip truck brother. Alot of them are..

    If a person's addiction is making their life more of a mess than it was already, and they're still using, the dealer is exploiting that person's life-sabotaging weakness, no? Or is there another way to see it?


    I never thought... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:57:33 AM EST
    the liquor store owner or tavern owner were exploiting my dear departed alcoholic father...he was a grown arse man making his own decisions. If they refused to part with the vodka on moral grounds my pops woulda just found somebody who would.

    I hear ya man...my conscience couldn't handle selling smack, or selling ammunition, or being a money lender...but to call out drug dealers for "exploitation" of addicts while exploitation is inherent (to some degree) in the global economy is unfair.  Not to mention every customer is not an addict, what about the responsible recreational user who is not being exploited by anybody but the police state prison complex?


    Add... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:10:31 AM EST
    I did not think for a second you just fell off a turnip truck my friend...all I meant by "gimme a break" is show me a businessman who doesn't exploit.  Nature of this beast we've created for ourselves.

    Well.. (none / 0) (#31)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 01:31:51 PM EST
    somebody, at some point, has to start getting serious about what the Buddhists call "right livlihood" around this predator-prey mileau we're perpetuating..

    And, imo, saying "he'll just get it from someone else" is something people say when they want to absolve themselves of any responsibility and divorce themselves from the web of life.

    If I don't do it somebody else will: just what the f*ckers who've trashed the Great Lakes say, I'm sure..


    Whatever ideas ya got... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 03:55:35 PM EST
    that doesn't involve criminalization as a first and seemingly only resort, I'm all ears.

    Until then, it is patently unfair to execute (Indonesia) or cage (USA) drug dealers for possibly exploiting addicts (and simply serving users who can handle their high), while letting the exploiters in good standing with the chamber of commerce do the same exact sh*t legally, encouraging them with tax breaks and favors even.


    The old "if you've done nothing..." (none / 0) (#14)
    by sj on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:40:18 AM EST
    "... wrong you have nothing to fear" attitude.  Tell that to Schapelle Corby who is very likely innocent.  

    Singapore has not been on my list of places to go for years because of their draconian laws.  But that's just me.  I also don't shop at Walmart.  I try not to put what money I have somewhere that I think it can do harm.  

    And I know that's an awkward sentence, but I don't have a better one.


    I think it is OK to empathize with people (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:17:36 AM EST
    that brought their troubles on themselves. If that weren't true there would be no empathy or sympathy int he world. We seem to be approaching that state. Glad you are not there yet!

    That's fine if you don't want to go. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:47:58 PM EST
    That's entirely your choice. It's not mine because personally, I like to travel to exotic destinations, and further, I hold the West in large part directly responsible for the present deplorable state of affairs with regards to human rights in Southeast Asia.

    I mean, what did the Dutch ever do to prepare Indonesia for eventual self-rule, or the British in Malaysia and Singapore, or the French in Indochina?

    One word: NOTHING.

    Actually, they did worse than nothing. Rather, they re-invaded those regions militarily after the Second World War, in a bloody but ultimately fruitless attempt to regain their former roles as colonial overlords. And when they finally failed, they tried to do the next best thing, and left cooperative strongmen and compliant dictators in their wake.

    As far as our country's own colonial oversight in the Philippines is concerned, I frankly marvel that the Filipinos have somehow managed to come as far as they have, given that we propped up the corrupt dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos for 20 years.

    So, if we as Americans want to look for fault in explaining why countries such as Indonesia are the way they are today, we best start by looking directly in the mirror. We helped to first create and then support the very political conditions under which corruption and draconian rule can only flourish.

    Further, I have personal experience with our country's support of the horridly brutal Suharto regime in Indonesia, having been part of a special legislative committee investigating a rather shady character named Sukarnan Sukamto Sia, who basically fronted the regime's money-laundering operations in the islands and speculated heavily in the Honolulu real estate market.

    When our special legislative committee was exploring back in 1990 how the Sukamto Corp. managed to get hold of the title to the 10-acre property upon which we planned to build our convention center, we subpoenaed him. Shortly thereafter, we were visited by Sukamto Sia, his attorney and representatives of Pres. George H.W. Bush's State Department, who duly informed us that the United States was granting him diplomatic immunity, so he wouldn't be complying with our subpoena or cooperating with our probe. He just sat there in front of us the whole time, smiling and gloating.

    (Sukamto Sia eventually fell into very serious disfavor after his sugar daddy Suharto was ousted in 1998, and he's now a citizen of Singapore. He was eventually arrested in Los Angeles by the U.S. Justice Dept. for his shenanigans, and was convicted in U.S. federal court here in Honolulu of bankruptcy and wire fraud in March 2002. He was deported after serving three years' imprisonment.)

    As I said, what's happened in Bali is indeed very sad. But frankly, most if not all of it was very much avoidable, had certain people only shown sufficient due deference to local laws and customs, and not behaved like 1920s white colonials in thinking that the rules are only for the locals, and somehow don't apply to them.



    Whatever (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:24:02 PM EST
    That's a lot of words for "I'll continue to do as I please."  It doesn't bother you, so you will go there if you want to.

    I'm not knocking that.  I, too, will continue to do as I please.  And it bothers me, so I won't go there.

    In this case it pleases me to visit other exotic places on my list when next the occasion arises.


    The laws are stupid (none / 0) (#18)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:20:39 PM EST
    But anyone screwing with drugs in a country that will put you to death for doing so is more stupid.

    I hate that this is happening, but if we want to take a moment to feel for someone in a dire predicament, there are a lot of other more sympathetic figures.

    if Sandiford is telling the truth (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:21:38 PM EST
    she was forced to carry the drugs by a syndicate in Thailand who threatened to kill her son. If she isn't telling the truth, she falsely set up four people to face the death penalty while refusing to give up the people who were really behind it.

    If she's telling the truth, her predicament is quite dire. If she lied, the predicament of the others is quite dire.

    It's not as simple as saying these defendants should have known not to deal drugs in Bali. Four of the five may not have been involved with dealing drugs or with Sandiford (which is indicated by the court finding no evidence they were involved and sentencing them only for what was found on them when arrested after being targeted by Sandiford.

    Julian Ponder is to be sentenced today. Sandiford claimed he was the ringleader and threatened to kill her son. At earlier proceedings, he was found responsible only for the 23 grams found at his and Dougall's house after the sting during which Sandiford handed him a gift-wrapped present for his 6 year old. He was busted before opening it and claims he had no idea there were drugs in it or that the package contained anything other than a birthday present.)
    Prosecutors are seeking 7 years for the 23 grams. If the court goes along with the 7 years, it means the court agrees he was not involved with Sandiford's crime but set up, and is only being penalized for the 23 grams. If he gets life or death, then it suggests the Court believes he was the intended recipient of Sandifords' drugs.

    So yes, if Ponder, who lives in Bali, was the ringleader, it's hard to have sympathy for him because he lived in Bali and knew the laws. But the reported details of the sting and the court yesterday saying Sandiford wasn't truthful suggests he wasn't.  And it's hard to think of anything more dire than being falsely set up to face a death penalty offense, anywhere in the world. If Sandiford is lying, that's what happened to four people here.

    The judges and prosecutors seem to believe she lied, but we'll know more after Ponder receives his sentence. So far:

    Dougall: 1 year (failing to report a crime)
    Beales: 4 years ( 3 grams of hash in home)
    Nandagopal Akkineni: 5 years (possession)

    More details here. And the sting details are here.


    what is fair for her? (none / 0) (#28)
    by diogenes on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:44:07 PM EST
    "15 years in a hellhole of an Indonesian prison is also excessive."

    She tried to frame a couple who had a child, potentially saddling them with a death penalty crime.  What exactly would be fair?