Death row grandmother running out of time as UK Government refuses to fund lawyer

April 22, 2013

Lindsay Sandiford, a British grandmother facing execution in Bali, has told how she is “desperate” after running out of money to pay a lawyer for her appeal in just over two weeks.

Ms Sandiford was sentenced to death on drug charges by a Bali court on 22 January this year. Earlier this month, she lost her appeal to the high court, meaning that the Indonesian Supreme Court is now the final court standing between her and the firing squad.She exhausted her finances paying for legal representation before her last appeal, and has since been relying on public donations to a fundraising website – and the auction of a jumper she is knitting – as the UK Foreign Office (FCO) has refused to step in to help.

Ms Sandiford needs around £8000 – money she does not have – in order to fund her Supreme Court appeal. In an open letter published by human rights charity Reprieve today, she says:

“I have been told the government’s position when it comes to British citizens in my position, facing execution in a foreign country: that I or my supporters must raise the funds for my defence, and that the longer I am on death row the more time I have in which to do this,” adding that, “I am unspeakably grateful…to the man who does not know me, but has set up a JustGiving.com site for me and raised over £2,500 towards the costs of my appeal. And I have been touched and humbled by the kindness of so many members of the British public, who have reached into their own pockets in difficult times to help me pay for a lawyer, when the government wouldn’t help me.”

Tomorrow (Monday 21 April) Ms Sandiford’s lawyers will go to the English Court of Appeal to appeal against the FCO’s decision not to help fund her lawyer. The text of Ms Sandiford’s letter is as follows:

“I am sitting in my death row cell here in Bali. Yes, I feel depressed. Yes, I know I have been stupid. Yes, I want to say sorry for what I have done – sorry to the British people for the shame I have caused and – more than anything – sorry to the people of Indonesia. And yes, I am totally humiliated. But I don’t want to beg. I’ll accept help, because I’m desperate and I don’t know where to turn. I am unspeakably grateful, for example, to the man who does not know me, but has set up a JustGiving.com site for me and raised over £2,500 towards the costs of my appeal. And I have been touched and humbled by the kindness of so many members of the British public, who have reached into their own pockets in difficult times to help me pay for a lawyer, when the government wouldn’t help me. So I don’t have the money to pay a local lawyer, again. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not very much money. The last appeal cost about £2,600. This time, in the Supreme Court, it will be about £8,000. If I really were a rich drug dealer, it would be no big deal. But I’m not, and you might as well ask me to pay ten million dollars. I have been told the government’s position when it comes to British citizens in my position, facing execution in a foreign country: that I or my supporters must raise the funds for my defence, and that the longer I am on death row the more time I have in which to do this.

They say some of the current cabinet ministers are out of touch. I don’t know much about politics but I do know the minister who said that, Alistair Burt, lives in cloud cuckoo land. My family has done all they possibly can to support me and nobody could ask anyone to do more. I myself am knitting a jumper that I will try to auction to raise money, but that’s not going to go far. Exactly how, Mr Burt, do you propose that I come up with £8,000? Perhaps you would like to bid £6,000 for my jumper. I think the colour might suit you. I suppose Mr Burt may think it’s my fault that I am where I am. I suppose that’s true, in the same way that it’s true that many people on trial in Britain have only themselves to blame when they get into trouble; but, at least for now, we have a pretty decent legal aid system for them. I suppose even someone who smokes cigarettes (and I’ve done that myself) may have only herself to blame when she gets cancer, but at least we have the NHS. The Indonesian system gives legal aid to its own citizens, but not to foreigners. So I cannot get a lawyer, unless I pay for one. In a way, I respect the Indonesians more than my own government at this point: they go out of their way for their own citizens, providing legal help to the many Indonesians who face execution in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. So they do what the British government is unwilling to do.”There are others who are even more desperate than me, other British people who face execution without anyone on their side, some who have been unfairly convicted for crimes they never committed. I know that there are some people who think I should die here in this prison cell. If I should die – and I hope I don’t, but I fear I may – then I hope that my execution will prompt the British government to do more for others.”

ENDS