British man gets 6 years in Bali drug trial
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British man gets 6 years in Bali drug trial

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — 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 against 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 $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.

(READ MORE: Indonesia: UK grandmother to appeal death sentence)

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

“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 of cocaine were found in his villa when he was arrested.

Prosecutors had sought seven years for Ponder, who could have received a life term. They had sought 15 years for Sandiford, but the court stunned Sandiford and many people in her home country by sentencing her to death.

Sandiford filed an appeal request Monday. During the trial, she claimed she was forced to transport the drugs into the country by a gang that was threatening to hurt her children. She was arrested in May when 3.8 kilograms (8.4 pounds) of cocaine were discovered in the lining of her luggage at Bali’s airport.

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

Indonesia, like many Asian countries, is very strict on drug crimes. Most of the more than 40 foreigners on its death row were convicted of drug charges. The country has not executed anyone since 2008, when 10 people were put to death.

Ponder’s wife, Rachel Lisa Dougall, was earlier sentenced to one year in the case, while Indian national Nandagopal Akkineni received five years. Another Briton, Paul Beales, was previously jailed for four years.