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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones