Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boss Branson Is Backing Death-Row Gran Appeal

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Boss Branson Is Backing Death-Row Gran Appeal

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Brown and James Cain

VIRGIN boss Richard Branson said he "fully supports" death-row gran Lindsay Sandiford in her bid for a "fair" hearing.

Sandiford, originally from Redcar, is in a Bali prison awaiting death by firing squad for drug smuggling offences.

Now 58, she is the last prisoner on death row on the island's Kerobokan jail after the other inmates were executed recently.

In letters reportedly signed by Sandiford, she asked billionaire Virgin Group founder Sir Richard and comedian turned social commentator Russell Brand to support her appeal after both spoke out against the execution of the "Bali nine".

Yesterday Sir Richard released a statement in which he said: "I strongly believe that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, and every execution is one execution too many.

"We are following Lindsay Sandiford's and other cases closely and fully support efforts that are currently under way to aid her appeal."

Last week Russell Brand posted an eight-minute video to YouTube accusing Indonesia of using the "Bali nine" as "human sacrifice" in order to conceal the country's economic dependence on the illegal drug trade, but is yet to respond to Sandiford's appeal for his support.

In her letter to Brand, Sandiford had said: "Mr Brand, you have spoken very eloquently and movingly about the plight of my friend Andrew who was a dear friend to me. I am truly heartbroken over his death because he helped me through some extremely difficult times after I was first sentenced to die...

"That is why I would like to ask for your help to support and promote my attempts to have a fair, final hearing into my own case.

"My situation is extremely urgent and if you can raise awareness of my case in any way it would be a great help and comfort to me."

Sandiford, from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, was sentenced to death in January 2013 after being arrested eight months previously when she was found with cocaine worth PS1. …

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