Lindsay Sandiford's hopes of release narrow after appeal rejection

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Lindsay Sandiford talks to a translator during her first trial in Bali. Photo: AAP Image/Johannes Christo

Three Indonesian Supreme Court judges have rejected an appeal by Lindsay Sandiford. The 57-year-old grandmother was caught with almost five kilos of cocaine at Bali's airport in May last year and sentenced to death in January.

Although she helped police trace other members of a drug smuggling gang, she was the only defendant to get a death sentence. The prosecution had been recommending a 15-year jail term.

The shock outcome has led to wide speculation that she simply didn't have enough money to 'buy' a lower sentence. There have been numerous cases reported of foreign prisoners paying off dishonest lawyers and judges in exchange for reduced prison terms. Indonesia's legal system is notoriously corrupt.

Lindsay Sandiford can now request a judicial review. Today the spokesman for the Supreme Court said that a review request can be lodged at any time, but only if new evidence can be found or if there's proof that the judges made an error.

Conditions are tough in Indonesia's infamous Kerobokan prison. Credit: AAP Image/Johannes Christo)

After that, there's the possibility of a presidential pardon, but legal experts believe there's only a slim chance of the President being lenient towards a foreigner convicted of drug smuggling when many Indonesians have been put to death.

Indonesia started executing foreigners again this year, after a four-year pause, with the death by firing squad of a Malawian found guilty of smuggling heroin.

Options are running out for Lindsay Sandiford. Britain opposes the death penalty and ministers have made that clear in her case.

There have been reports of a possible prisoner exchange. Rafat Ali Rizvi, a 52-year-old British man, is accused of being involved in bank fraud in Indonesia. He claims the charges against him are politically motivated.

Lindsay Sandiford is facing execution. Credit: REUTERS/Stringer Indonesia

The request would be for Rafat Ali Rizvi to be sent to Indonesia and then Lindsay could serve out her sentence in the UK. There is no extradition policy between the UK and Indonesia.

However, today we spoke to Amir Syamsuuddin, the minister of legal affairs and human rights, who admitted there is ongoing "discourse" about a possible exchange.

He said: "We don't have the regulations that can make such a thing possible yet ... I'm still studying (this issue)."

Previous drug smuggling cases involving foreigners have resulted in long drawn out appeals, in one case lasting eight years. For now, Lindsay Sandiford remains in a hot, cramped cell in Bali's infamous Kerobokan prison with her chances of release narrowing.