Pregnant British woman faces firing squad over drug charges


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Message 890832 - Posted: 3 May 2009, 15:27:07 UTC

Pregnant British woman faces firing squad over drug charges

Friends believe woman may have been raped in notorious Laos prison

By Robert Verkaik, Law editor
Saturday, 2 May 2009

A pregnant British woman held in a Laos prison for nine months faces execution if she is convicted of drug smuggling next week.

Friends of Samantha Orobator-Oghagbon, 20, believe she may have been raped while in detention and now fear for the health of her unborn baby.

Ms Orobator-Oghagbon, 20, from south London, was arrested at the country's Wattay Airport on 6 August 2008 and subsequently became pregnant at the notoriously abusive women's prison. Next week she goes on trial after being accused of smuggling 680 grams of heroin, narrowly exceeding the statutory minimum for the death penalty in Laos. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to execution by firing squad.

Ms Orobator-Oghagbon left home in July 2008 for a holiday and, after visiting the Netherlands and Thailand, was arrested in Laos. She has consistently claimed that she was forced into carrying drugs for a third party. The legal charity Reprieve, which is trying to help the Briton, say there is no evidence that she was anything more than a "mule".

Reprieve says she has not had access to lawyers. British diplomats in only learnt of her detention months after she was arrested. Since then she has been allowed to meet a consular official for 20 minutes every month, always with a guard present.

Ronke Oseni, 21, a psychology student at Kingston University, who has known Ms Orobator-Oghagbon for 11 years, said: "There is no one there to visit her, no one to talk to, she doesn't speak the language.

"I'm really scared for her. I can't even imagine what she's going through. The punishment does not fit the crime. They want to shoot her but what about the baby?"

Born in Nigeria in 1988, Ms Orobator-Oghagbon moved to the UK when she was eight and was raised by her aunt, Sabaina Orobator, in Camberwell, south London. Her uncle, her father figure, was killed in Nigeria, and the family were granted asylum status in the UK. Teachers remember her as a friendly and intelligent child. "She was very popular. She had a bizarre sense of humour. She was very bright," reports a former teacher from Sacred Heart School in London. "Always in the top sets. She got As and Bs."

There is a lack of medical care in Laos prisons, leading to the deaths of at least two foreign nationals this decade. In May last year, British citizen Michael Newman was found dead in his prison cell. He had been ill for over a week and was refused treatment. A French national, Francis Prasak, died in January 2001 after his requests for medical treatment were ignored. The daily ration reportedly consists of two bowls of pig fat water soup and 18oz (500g) of sticky rice. Most prisoners rely on their families to deliver food parcels.

Between 2003 and 2005, 37 death sentences were handed down by the Laos government. In 2007 at least two people were sentenced to death. Laos says the death penalty is needed to deter trafficking in drugs. In an interview in August 2008, Yong Chanthalangsy, a spokesperson for the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Article 135 of Laos criminal laws, which deals with penalties for drug traffickers, had been modified three times. And in the third change, the government increased the punishment to death penalty.

A spokeswoman for Ms Orobator-Oghagbon's local MP, Harriet Harman, said that she was doing everything possible to assist in the case and had been in contact with the Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell about the matter. She said that the immediate priority was to ensure that the trial does not take place before a visit to the UK by the Laotian foreign minister, who is due to arrive next week.


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Message 890842 - Posted: 3 May 2009, 15:58:27 UTC

Concern for British woman in jail in Laos (02/05/2009)

Foreign Office Minister, Bill Rammell, made a statement regarding Samantha Orobator-Oghagbon who is in jail in Laos. He said: 'The British Government is opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.'

Bill Rammell said:

"The British Government is opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. We have made the Laos authorities aware of this at the highest levels in Samantha's case, as we do in all cases where a British national faces charges that carry the death penalty or has been sentenced to death. We are also providing consular assistance to Samantha, in particular to help ensure that she has good legal representation. We are paying close attention to her welfare and are in regular contact with the Laotian authorities about her case. British Embassy officials, including the Ambassador, have visited her six times since her arrest."

"In addition, Britain's consular representatives in Laos, the Australian Embassy, including the Australian Embassy doctor, have visited Samantha ten times on our behalf. I will be raising this case with the Laotian Deputy Prime Minister when I meet him this Thursday."


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Message 891186 - Posted: 4 May 2009, 14:49:06 UTC

this is me not feeling sorry for a convicted drug smugglern no matter what the circumstances
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Message 891227 - Posted: 4 May 2009, 17:18:55 UTC - in response to Message 891186.

this is me not feeling sorry for a convicted drug smuggler no matter what the circumstances


Have you seen a report where it states that Samantha is convicted of anything? How about a little compassion for a woman who entered prison without being pregnant and now is? "No matter what the circumstances", a little harsh no? She says she was forced into being a "mule", who knows that those circumstances were?
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Message 891319 - Posted: 4 May 2009, 21:46:48 UTC - in response to Message 891227.

this is me not feeling sorry for a convicted drug smuggler no matter what the circumstances


Have you seen a report where it states that Samantha is convicted of anything? How about a little compassion for a woman who entered prison without being pregnant and now is? "No matter what the circumstances", a little harsh no? She says she was forced into being a "mule", who knows that those circumstances were?

The circumstances are the same as always. I don't see where it reports that a member of her family was being held hostage. I don't see where she had a remote control bomb locked on her. Not even alleged brainwashing. Nothing being alleged to say she truly was being forced. Likely she was in an abusive relationship which she chose to remain in.

As for a conviction, I don't see where she is denying carrying the drugs, but I do suppose Laos does have to prove they were drugs in a trial.

As for her getting pregnant, I don't even see where she is alleging rape. Wouldn't be the first case of using sex as a bribe to a guard to get special treatment or favors. Likely because I'm sure that abusive boyfriend that made her carry the drugs isn't sending her anything in prison.

If she was raped, then she should live long enough to see her rapist castrated. As for her child, unless a father or relative of hers steps up it is going into whatever Laos has for orphans. Hey, maybe Madonna would take the kid!

Reminds me of a case a friend worked on about 15 years ago. Girlfriend of a Nigerian coming into the USA with 10 kilos of pure heroin under a false bottom in her suitcase. Her boyfriend had her carry it. Instead of doing the smart thing and ratting him out right away when given the opportunity, he was waiting for her just outside Customs - that much junk you bet he was waiting, she kept her mouth shut. When she didn't show up he figured it out quick and hightailed it back to Nigeria. Took her three days to decide to cooperate. By then he was gone and any chance for her to cooperate. She may be eligible for parole in another decade.

If she was raped, I feel sorry for her, for the rest she chose her actions and now she has to lie in the bed she chose.

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Message 891388 - Posted: 5 May 2009, 0:26:59 UTC - in response to Message 891319.
Last modified: 5 May 2009, 0:27:52 UTC

this is me not feeling sorry for a convicted drug smuggler no matter what the circumstances


Have you seen a report where it states that Samantha is convicted of anything? How about a little compassion for a woman who entered prison without being pregnant and now is? "No matter what the circumstances", a little harsh no? She says she was forced into being a "mule", who knows that those circumstances were?

The circumstances are the same as always. I don't see where it reports that a member of her family was being held hostage. I don't see where she had a remote control bomb locked on her. Not even alleged brainwashing. Nothing being alleged to say she truly was being forced. Likely she was in an abusive relationship which she chose to remain in.


Likely you have as much an idea regarding the circumstances beyond those reported in the newspaper article as me, that is none. If you know more of the specifics please share them and your sources, otherwise you're speculating and articulating your prejudices.
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Message 891394 - Posted: 5 May 2009, 0:34:04 UTC - in response to Message 891388.

Likely you have as much an idea regarding the circumstances beyond those reported in the newspaper article as me, that is none. If you know more of the specifics please share them and your sources, otherwise you're speculating and articulating your prejudices.

If there was a story to be told, the media would be telling it.
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Message 891539 - Posted: 5 May 2009, 10:07:30 UTC

Pregnant Briton Samantha Orobator may escape death penalty

Normally anyone found in Laos with more than 500g of heroin faces the death penalty by firing squad.

Miss Orobator's supporters are also deeply concerned because she appears to have fallen pregnant while in Laos's notorious Phonthong prison. She is believed to be five months pregnant - a fact which, it emerged today, may work in her favour.

“Another provision of the law also provides that any pregnant (woman) will not be sentenced to the death penalty,” said Mr Khenthong, adding that the judge would decide on the sentence at the trial.


It's interesting to me that getting pregnant while in prison might be the one thing that saves this woman's life. Makes it much more difficult to prove whether it was by rape or purposeful pregnancy, I'd wager...




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