Lindsay Sandiford, a British national, was today sentenced to death by firing squad by a Bali court for smuggling almost 5 Kilos of cocaine into Indonesia.
Western media spin this story along the lines of:
"British Grandmother Sentenced to Death by Firing Squad"
They deliberately use "Grandmother" as an emotive word in their headlines in order to gain sympathy for Sandiford. When coupled with the word "British" in the same headline, the western media spin is implying that Indonesia is a country run by savages who kill poor old British ladies.
However, if you read the comments posted by UK members of the public on most UK blogs and news articles about this case, you'll find that most UK citizens do not find the sentence of this case either shocking, or unfair.
Sandiford put the Bali authorities into an impossible position where no matter what they did, they couldn't win. The Bali court only had 2 options:
1) Sentence her to jail, and show the world that their warnings about drug trafficking are meaningless and that trafficking drugs into an Island paradise to destroy thousands of lives is no worse than stealing a few televisions from a shop, thereby opening-up Indonesia to a free-for-all drugs import situation.
2) Sentence her to death, and damage the Indonesian tourist trade by scaring off some innocent tourists.
It's highly likely that upon appeal (or subsequent to a failed appeal, using clemency or other diplomatic processes) she will have her sentence reduced to a prison term. It's also likely that she'll then end up being deported back to the UK well before her jail sentence is completed.
Whatever happens, this woman's actions have damaged Indonesia.
There is an alarming lack of facts about this case in the public domain, but that doesn't seem to be due to lazy reporting by the media, instead it seems to be due to Sandiford herself not supplying relevant facts that would help her own defence.
The media reports that she did it to protect her son who had supposedly been threatened with death by a UK criminal gang if she didn't smuggle the drugs for them. Apparently that death threat was made over a disagreement about a rent payment. There are several questions about this argument which nobody has reported on, or asked about in the media:
1) How on earth can a simple rent dispute lead to a death threat?
2) Why didn't she (or her son) call the UK police if her son's life had been threatened?
3) What are her son's links (and her links) to the UK criminal gang?
4) If the rent disagreement was the reason behind it, then even if she didn't have the cash-in-hand, why not just sell some of her own property/belongings or get a loan to pay the debt/rent? (which would have been a lot quicker than the drug smuggling process)
A quick trawl on Google and you start to get some more details about Sandiford from her local area
, described by her neighbours in the UK such as: "There were always people coming round and I saw the police parked outside a few times." and "She wasn't a nice person. She caused a lot of trouble when she lived here, her and her sons". The Gloucestershire website
paints a very different picture of her to what's being portrayed in the rest of the media and by her own defence.
also has a similar counter-point to her defence.
The Dail Mail
describes how Sandiford's own mother left the UK years ago to get away from her (although that paragraph is hidden quite deep in their article).
Nothing about her defence "adds up" - she's described by Reprieve (the human rights organisation defending her) as "Vulnerable", and they paint a picture of her as an innocent victim caught up in criminal processes by a gang who took advantage of her vulnerability. This seems to be completely at odds with reality (unless, that is, the facts that would help her defence have been deliberately hidden by everyone, including by her own defence team).
If you compare her defence (or lack of it) with the opinions of people who actually knew her, then you'll come to the conclusion that, on the balance of probability, reason, logic, common-sense, and the facts, it's less likely that she's an innocent victim of a gang threat, and more likely that she's just another sociopath trying to import drugs into an island paradise and destroy thousands of lives so that she could get some cash.
When the dust settles, the most probable outcome is that her sentence will be reduced to a jail term, and that in a couple of years she'll be back in the UK selling her story to the highest bidder.
Smuggling drugs is a truly evil crime; it funds all manner of other illegal activities, including terrorism, it destroys people's lives, and inflicts great harm on society.
The UK authorities are trying to lecture Indonesia on how savage the death penalty is (conveniently forgetting that the USA also has the death penalty).
Perhaps, rather than criticising Indonesia for its harsh drug laws (or, indeed, criticising the USA for its death penalty), the UK authorities should look at themselves in a mirror and ask themselves why they think that London, and other cities in the UK, had several weeks of riots and arson in 2011
, which was being driven not by political reasons, but purely by the fact that all the kids just wanted new "stuff" and didn't want to pay for it, and they knew they wouldn't get caught, and they knew that if they did get caught then they'd just get told to stop being naughty and then sent back home. Riots, arson; the police did nothing, the government did nothing; the only thing that made the UK government finally intercede was the fact that ordinary members of the public had had enough and were starting to go out onto the street with baseball bats and iron bars to stop the rioters/looters.
Indonesia should not be accepting law-and-order lessons from a country that created a national backdrop of a total lack of personal responsibility, and then simply stood by with complete indifference and watched its own capital get razed to the ground by gangs of thugs who had no legitimate grievances.