UK woman in Bali drugs trial pleads coercion

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A BRITISH woman on trial in Indonesia for drug trafficking told a court yesterday that she became involved only because “the lives of my children were in danger”.

Lindsay Sandiford, 56, from Redcar, Teesside, was arrested in May after police in Bali said they found 10.6lb of cocaine in the lining of her suitcase.

In her witness statement, she said: “I would never have become involved in something like this but the lives of my children were in danger and I felt I had to protect them.”

Prosecutors in the Bali court have already said they are seeking a 15-year prison term, a lesser sentence than the maximum penalty for drug trafficking, which is death.

During the hearing yesterday, Sandiford’s lawyer read out a statement from her son, which said: “I love my mother very much and have a very close relationship with her.

“I know that she would do anything to protect me. I cannot imagine what I would do if she was sentenced to death in relation to these charges.”

The hearing was postponed from last week because an interpreter was not available.

A statement by Dr Jennifer Fleetwood, an expert on the coercion of women in the international drug trade, was also read out. It said that in her opinion, Sandiford was threatened and coerced into acting as a drugs courier.

The next hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow.

Reprieve, a charity that seeks to enforce human rights for prisoners, said Sandiford was targeted by drug traffickers, who made threats against her children.

Spokeswoman Harriet McCulloch added: “Following her arrest, she was interrogated by the Indonesian police without a translator, legal representation or the assistance of the British Embassy for ten days.

“We hope that the judges take all of this into consideration when handing down their