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Urgent legal appeal in Bali death sentence case

Leigh Day in fight to ensure justice for British woman

28 January 2013

Law firm Leigh Day has issued urgent legal proceedings against the British Government’s decision not to arrange ‘an adequate lawyer’ to represent Lindsay Sandiford, a 56 year old British National so she can appeal against a death sentence imposed on her last week, in Bali Indonesia.

The case will be heard at the High Court in London before Thursday this week.

Ms Sandiford , a grandmother from Cheltenham, was convicted on two charges, relating to the importation and trafficking of narcotics, both of which are punishable with death by firing squad.

She was arrested at Bali's airport in May 2012 after 4.8kg (10.6lb) of cocaine was found in the lining of her suitcase during a routine customs check. Her trial in Indonesia started on 4 October 2012 and finished on 22 January 2013, when a sentence to death by firing squad was handed down. The judge, despite the fact that the prosecution had been seeking 15 years imprisonment, imposed the death sentence.

Ms Sandiford has seven days to appeal, meaning that she has until 1st February to launch an appeal against her death sentence.

To date, she has not had adequate legal representation in order to challenge the case being made against her by the Indonesian authorities. Because she now has no money, she has no representation at all, to appeal against the sentence imposed.

Leigh Day, working alongside the charity Reprieve, have requested that the UK government act immediately to assist Ms Sandiford, so she can appeal her death sentence. Leigh Day have advised their client that the UK government has acted in breach of its own policy by refusing to ensure that Ms Sandiford has adequate legal representation in Indonesia to challenge the death penalty.

Rosa Curling, from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day, said:

“The UK government has repeatedly confirmed its opposition to the death penalty. It has a clear legal duty to ensure our client, who has no money to to be able to pay for the basic essentials, let alone legal representation, receives appropriate assistance to be able file an appeal against her death sentence.

Without the government’s helps, Ms Sandiford faces being executed by firing squad. Mr Hague must not allow this to happen – he must immediately ensure Ms Sandiford, a British citizen, is provided with the opportunity to challenge her sentence and file an appeal.”

In a letter before action sent to William Hague, Leigh Day explained that Ms Sandiford had suffered a succession of inadequate legal representatives.

Her first lawyer, who was appointed by the Indonesian police made no effort to investigate her case or to represent her interests during the police interrogations in Bali. He also allegedly stole money from Lindsay and tried to demand money from journalists for access to her story.

Her second lawyer, also appointed by the Indonesian police was equally inadequate.

The third lawyer asked Ms Sandiford to sign a Power of Attorney to give him control over her finances.

The fourth lawyer, appointed by Ms Sandiford’s sister, and who represented her at her trial had no experience in capital cases at all; his expertise is in property law.

Ms Sandiford who has no money is currently unrepresented with no access to an appropriate lawyer.

Richard Stein, Partner in the Human Rights team at Leigh Day said:

“The Government has a duty to ensure that the human rights of British citizens are protected and that those sentenced to death, or suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed, have adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.

“This judicial review will challenge the Government’s refusal to fund the £2500 in expenses it would cost for a qualified Indonesian lawyer to represent Lindsay in her appeal against execution by firing squad which will take place on the beach in Bali if the Government do not act.”

Harriet McCulloch, investigator at Reprieve, said:

“Everyone knows that capital punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment. Lindsay’s poverty means that she has ended up sentenced to death after a manifestly unfair trial. In November the FCO spent £10,000 restuffing a stuffed snake called Albert.  The costs of Lindsay’s pro bono lawyer would amount to a fraction of that. The FCO must take immediate action and ensure that she does not lose the chance to appeal her death sentence.”

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