Legal challenge over 'unsafe' Laos drugs conviction

A woman jailed in Laos on drugs charges who returned to the United Kingdom to serve her sentence launched a legal challenge today against her conviction.

Samantha Orobator, from Peckham, south London, was given a life sentence after being found guilty of smuggling heroin.

The pregnant 20-year-old returned home earlier this month and was sent to Holloway Prison.

Today her lawyers said she had been subjected to a "disgraceful show trial", denied access to lawyers, and prevented from defending herself.

The action, launched by solicitors Bindmans and legal charity Reprieve, argues her conviction is "manifestly unsafe" and should not be recognised here.

Orobator's solicitor, Rhona Friedman, said: "Here we have a flagrant denial of justice to a British citizen abroad.

"Samantha was subjected to a sham legal process that makes a mockery of justice.

"The Laos conviction is manifestly unsafe and should not be recognised in this country."







A preliminary hearing of the case will take place at the High Court a week today.



Orobator's lawyers will argue she is being held unlawfully, and ask for a judicial review of the Government order keeping her in prison.



Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said she was being held to "placate" the Laos regime.



She said: "As a vulnerable young woman far from home, Samantha was exploited by a government determined to convict her and uninterested in her defence.



"The Lao government's handling of this case revealed their contempt for truth, decency and legal rights.



"We hope the British Government recognises that Samantha's life must not be thrown away simply to placate that regime."



Orobator was arrested on August 5 last year as she tried to board a flight for Australia with, it is claimed, 1.5lb (680g) of heroin in capsules on her body.



She faced death by firing squad until it was revealed she was pregnant. Laotian law states pregnant women cannot be executed.



While in prison she was forced to make statements praising the authorities in the South-East Asian country, while being denied proper access to a lawyer, she says.



After the trial, she was allowed to return home to serve her sentence under a prisoner transfer agreement.



On her arrival at Heathrow on August 7, she said she was "enormously relieved and happy to be back on British soil".



Orobator's child is due next month, but it is unclear how she became pregnant while being held in an all-female prison.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory