Last updated at 1:08 AM on 10th May 2009
A pregnant British woman arrested for heroin-smuggling in Laos has been told she must testify in court that she was not raped in prison in order to escape the firing squad.
Samantha Orobator, who is five months pregnant, was arrested in August at Wattay airport in the capital Vientiane for trying to smuggle 1.5lb of heroin.
The 20-year-old from South London goes on trial this week and will be asked to declare publicly that she was not raped in Phonthong prison, one of Asia’s most squalid jails.
samantha orobator is facing the death penalty
Samantha Orobator is facing the death penalty for heroin-smuggling
If Orobator co-operates, she will be transferred from Laos to a UK prison under a new treaty signed between the two countries on Thursday, but if not, her trial will be postponed and she will return to jail in Laos.
If she faces trial again after the birth of her child, she will not have the immunity from execution that pregnancy gives her under the Laos penal code.
* 'Drug-smuggling' Briton who became pregnant in Laos prison could spend any jail time in UK
A Laos government spokesman, Kenthong Nuanthasing, said: ‘She will tell the court, otherwise she will stay here. Nobody can guarantee that she will not face the firing squad.’
Laos’s leaders are sensitive to suggestions that Orobator might have been raped in jail and appear to be using her trial to try to quash the allegation.
‘We don’t want the outside world to blame us,’ Nuanthasing added.
the prison where samantha orobator is being held
Squalid: The prison where Samantha Orobator is being held
Asked who fathered the baby, Nuanthasing said: ‘It is a mystery – maybe it is a baby from the sky.’
Orobator has already written a letter declaring she was not raped and that she had not had sex while in prison, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
Although officials claim Phonthong prison is a women-only jail with female guards, staff there said it had male and female guards and separate male and female blocks.
A French former inmate who spent five months there in the Nineties said: ‘Female prisoners were coerced into sex with promises from guards that they would get them off the death penalty, get them a shorter sentence or make life inside more comfortable for them.’
Human rights lawyer Anna Morris flew to Vientiane last week to represent Orobator but has so far been refused permission to see her.
the comments there disgusted me.
btw: she still is saying she is not guilty; & the 1 pound 1/2 of heroin was 'found' in her suitcase. if she is guilty of possession -- i'm not sure that even sounds like smuggling.