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British man gets 6 years in Bali drug trial

BALI, Indonesia--An Indonesian court sentenced a Briton to six years in prison Tuesday for his role in a cocaine-smuggling case that led to a death sentence last week for a British grandmother.

Julian Anthony Ponder, 43, was convicted of receiving cocaine from 56-year-old Lindsay June Sandiford, who was found guilty of smuggling US$2.5 million worth of the drug in her suitcase onto the resort island of Bali. Sandiford was sentenced Jan. 22 to death by firing squad.

Ponder seemed relieved after hearing the verdict, but declined to talk to reporters.

“I think it's light enough,” said his lawyer, Ary Sunardi. “We will suggest that he accept the sentence.”

Presiding Judge Gunawan Tri Budiono said Ponder was found guilty of possessing narcotics and also fined 1 billion rupiah (US$102,500). Twenty-three grams (0.8 ounces) of cocaine were found in his villa when he was arrested.

Sandiford Appeals, Rights Group Sues British Gov't

Sandiford filed an appeal request Monday. London-based human rights group Reprieve said it is suing the British government to attempt to force it to pay for Sandiford's legal representation, arguing that officials have fallen down on their duty to keep her safe from inhuman conditions and ensure she has a fair trial. It said Sandiford spent all of her money on the trial lawyer and cannot afford to pay for the appeal, which involves filing legal documents in the Indonesian language by Feb. 12.

In a statement, Reprieve's Harriet McCulloch said the costs of providing support for Sandiford would be negligible. She said the Foreign Office “must take immediate action and ensure that she does not lose the chance to appeal her death sentence.”

During the trial, Sandiford maintained that she was forced to transport the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children.

In London, British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire told lawmakers last week that the government strongly opposes Sandiford's sentence.

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