Britain’s government faces a High Court challenge on Thursday after it refused to pay for a lawyer for a British grandmother’s appeal against her death sentence in Indonesia for drug smuggling.
Lawyers for the charity Reprieve, which works to protect the interests of prisoners worldwide, said it would cost around £2,500 ($4,000) to pay for an adequate lawyer to take on the case.
Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was sentenced to death last week for smuggling nearly 5 kilograms of cocaine worth $2.4 million on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
She argued that she had been forced into doing it and faced threats that her children would be harmed, but the authorities say she was the ringleader in a huge international drugs ring.
Law firm Leigh Day is seeking a judicial review of the British government’s decision not to pay for a lawyer.
“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,” said Richard Stein, a partner at Leigh Day.
“This judicial review will challenge the government’s refusal to fund the £2,500 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.”
Britain’s Foreign Office said the government does not pay for lawyers abroad representing British nationals, but her case was being raised through diplomatic channels.
“We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time,” said a spokesman.
The last execution of a foreigner in Indonesia was in June 2008, when two Nigerian drug traffickers were shot.