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Firing squad granny in race against time to appeal after blunder by the Foreign Office
Appeal letter on behalf of Lindsay Sandiford, 56, rejected after mix-upSister Hilary Parsons accuses Foreign Office of 'incompetence and insensitivity
But plea finally accepted after agonising 18-hour waitMs Parsons reveals fellow suspect Julian Ponder has made death threats to her sister
22:22 GMT, 2 February 2013
09:44 GMT, 3 February 2013
A grandmother facing execution in Bali for drug-smuggling nearly lost her chance to appeal against her sentence because of an astonishing Foreign Office mix-up.
After 56-year-old Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to death by firing squad 12 days ago for smuggling 1.6 million worth of cocaine, British Embassy officials offered to submit a letter to court on her behalf, saying that she intended to contest the penalty.
Sandiford had seven days after her sentencing to file the letter. At first she did not want to appeal, but finally agreed and the embassy got the letter to the court last Monday – the final possible day. But 90 minutes before the court closed for the day, Balinese officials rejected the letter, saying it had to come from the prison and not from diplomats.
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Support: Hilary Parsons with her sister Lindsay Sandiford, who is facing the death penalty for smuggling cocaine into Bali. Her last-gasp plea for an appeal hearing was finally accepted after a Foreign Office blunder
A local consular official had to call Sandiford’s 61-year-old sister Hilary Parsons – who is staying in an 18-a-night guest house five minutes’ walk from the prison – and she phoned a male prisoner inside Kerobokan jail to ask him to raise Sandiford in the women’s block.
But the Briton, sedated after falling into a deep depression over her death penalty, was asleep. As the clock ticked down, she was woken and ran to the prison office, where a letter was quickly drafted.
A consular official dropped it at the court 30 minutes after closing time – and after a nerve-racking 18-hour wait, it was accepted the following morning.
Yesterday Ms Parsons accused the Foreign Office of cruelly mishandling her sister’s case. ‘I am appalled at their incompetence and insensitivity,’ she said.
‘When I got her on the end of a phone I said, “Get up, wake up, go to the prison office and get them to write the letter as quick as you can.”
Accused: Julian Ponder, alleged to be the ringleader of the plot to smuggle the drugs, has apparently made death threats to Ms Sandiford, according to her sister
‘It was absolutely terrifying. When the court closed, we had to endure a night believing the chance to appeal against the sentence was gone.
‘It was all left to me and I was made to feel it would have been my fault if she’d missed the chance to appeal against the death penalty.’
Ms Parsons, who moved to Bali in October from her home in North London to be near her sister, added: ‘Lindsay has been distressed at their behaviour all the way along. She told me many times that they don’t know what they are doing. When you get here and see what is going on, you understand what she’s up against.’
Ms Parsons said her sister’s ordeal had been made even worse by repeated death threats from the men she claimed forced her to smuggle the cocaine from Bangkok to Bali – Britons Julian Ponder, who was given six years, and Paul Beales, who is serving four years. Ms Parsons said. ‘We were sitting in the prison office together when Ponder went past on his way to go to court. He put his head in the window and laughed at us. Lindsay just cried.’
Ms Parsons says Sandiford was told there would be a gang ‘waiting for her’ in prison and that other inmates had been threatened for talking to her. Ms Parsons has now launched a website to raise awareness of her sister’s legal fight.
A Foreign Office source last night confirmed Ms Parsons’ account of the chaos surrounding the appeal letter but insisted that diplomats had been misinformed by local court officials in Bali.
VIDEO The moment Lindsay Sandiford is sentenced to death in Bali
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