Indonesian court sentences Australian woman to life jail

An Indonesian court has sentenced an Australian woman to life in jail for trying to smuggle drugs out of Bali.

The tough jail term was more than the 20 years prosecutors had recommended. Renee Lawrence is the first of the so-called "Bali nine" to be sentenced for trying to traffic more than 8.3 kg (18 pounds) of heroin last April.

The other eight will be sentenced in the next few days. Prosecutors had called for death sentences for two of them, and life terms for the other six.

The trials are being closely watched in Australia, where many people oppose the death sentence.

Under Indonesian law, prosecutors specify what penalty they think the defendant should receive if found guilty, but judges are free to ignore this recommendation.

The Bali nine were arrested in April 2005. Some, like Lawrence, were detained at Bali's airport with heroin strapped to their bodies, while others were arrested in a nearby hotel room.

Prosecutors had asked the court in the Balinese capital of Denpasar to show leniency to Lawrence because she was helpful in giving statements during the investigation.

But the judges ignored this request, saying there was no evidence to back her claim that she had been forced to carry the drugs, reports the AP.

I.L.