Pregnant Briton jailed in Laos flown home

A pregnant Briton sentenced to life imprisonment in Laos for trafficking heroin flew home Thursday to serve the remainder of her sentence, just weeks before she was due to give birth.



Samantha Orobator, 20, was sentenced in June after pleading guilty to drug trafficking. Police said they found 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of heroin in 68 capsules on Orobator's body when she was arrested at Vientiane airport last August on her way to Australia.

Her case drew widespread attention in Britain over fears that she could be executed by a firing squad and reports — later discounted by her mother — that she was raped in prison. Her mother, Jane, has said the father is not a Lao prison official but has refused to divulge his identity.

Heroin trafficking is punishable in Laos by death, but Orobator was spared because the law does not allow the execution of pregnant women.

Under a pact signed in May by Laos and Britain, Orobator can be extradited to serve her time in Britain, though it is unlikely she will serve a life sentence. The two countries signed an agreement Thursday paving the way for her transfer and she was handed over to British authorities.

"Samantha's transfer today would ensure that she will give birth in the U.K.," Quinton Quayle, the British ambassador to Laos, told reporters before the flight left. "We believe that this is the best outcome for all concerned, in particular her unborn child."

Orobator refused to speak to reporters as she boarded the flight to Bangkok accompanied by Quayle and several other British diplomats. She was to transfer planes in Bangkok and fly onto London.

British officials had been pressing for the transfer, concerned that she was in the late stages of her pregnancy. She will be 36 weeks pregnant on Aug. 12, after which she would likely be unable to take an international flight.

According to Lao officials, Nigerian-born Orobator initially told authorities she was pregnant by her boyfriend in England, but tests after she was arrested showed no signs of pregnancy. It was not until March 2 that a hospital test showed she was pregnant, police said.

Quayle told Sky News television that during her trial prosecutors read out a statement from Orobator in which she claimed to have artificially inseminated herself with semen from fellow British prisoner John Watson.

British authorities have asked that Watson be transferred back to Britain but the request is pending.

Orobator's mother, who lives in Dublin, fought to have her daughter transferred out of Laos since she was arrested. She told BBC television Thursday that she was relieved her daughter would be coming home.

"We're very happy she's coming back to the U.K. to have her baby here," she said.

Rights groups say Laos' judicial system is beholden to the Communist regime that has ruled the country since 1975.

The country lies in the opium-producing Golden Triangle bordering Myanmar and Laos. Although production of narcotics has fallen in the region in recent years, it is still a major source of illicit drugs.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Sales Apprentice

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Team Leader

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Engineer - Linux, Windows, Cloud - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + 10% bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engin...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence