Briton Khuram Garcia sentenced to 20 years in Indonesian prison after court refuses to consider duress plea
June 16, 2011
The District Court in Denpassar, Indonesia, has today sentenced 40-year-old British national Khuram Garcia to 20 years in prison for carrying drugs into Bali. Khuram, the sole carer for his seriously ill mother in Manchester, was facing the death penalty after being arrested at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport on Thursday 11 November 2010. He had travelled to Cameroon six days earlier to work with young football players there, but shortly after arriving was threatened at gunpoint by a supposed ‘friend’ and instructed to carry a bag to Bali. Khuram was informed that his ailing mother would be killed if he did not comply immediately.Terrified, he took the bag and travelled to Bali, where he was arrested by customs officials. Khuram immediately explained to police that he had been forced to carry the bag and had no idea of the contents. He then assisted police in a sting operation to apprehend an Indonesian man named Yan Zacharia Santosa. Khuram was told he would be released once the arrest had been made, but this never happened.Neither Khuram’s willing assistance to the police nor the duress he was under was considered by the prosecution or the court. In addition, the defence was unable to compel key police and customs witnesses to appear, unlike the prosecution. This significantly undermined Khuram’s defence and is a clear violation of the fair trial principles to which Indonesia has subscribed by signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.In addition to the 20-year prison sentence, the court imposed a one billion rupiah (£72,400) fine, which Khuram is unable to pay.
Khuram’s local defence lawyer, Erwin Siregar, will appeal the decision in Bali’s High Court.
Erwin Siregar, Khuram Garcia’s Indonesian defence lawyer, said: “Sadly, neither the Judge nor the Prosecution have been able to consider what really happened to my client Khuram Garcia. The appearance of Customs Officer Arif Hamid was crucial in establishing the truth in this case. Mr Hamid was aware of the duress Khuram was under; he assured him that his co-operation, which led to the arrest of Yan Zacharia Santosa, would result in release. Although we have repeatedly requested for Mr Hamid to testify, he has inexplicably failed to appear before the court. We will appeal this decision.”Reprieve investigator Katherine Bekesi said: “This conviction is alarmingly unsafe, and we would expect the British government to make urgent representations to the appellate court in order to have the decision overturned in line with Indonesian and international principles of natural justice.”ENDS Notes to editors For further information please contact Katherine O’Shea in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1099 / (0) 7931592674Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 27 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.