Samantha Orobator: smuggler

BRITISH citizen Samantha Orobator, whose family live in Ireland, may be forced to give birth in substandard conditions at an Asian prison because the Laos authorities have not yet sanctioned her transfer to a British jail.

Orobator (20) originally from Nigeria but a naturalised British citizen, was sentenced to life imprisonment last month in Laos for attempting to smuggle 0.68 kg of heroin.

The British government signed a prisoner-transfer agreement with Laos in May so Orobator could serve her sentence in the UK.

However, as she entered the third trimester of her pregnancy during the first week in June, it will no longer be safe for her to travel by air by the end of this week.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, her mother Jane Orobator (40) a student at Trinity College, Dublin, said she was "hoping and praying" her daughter would be transferred to a British prison in the coming days.

"She cannot travel for much longer. I just want her home. It would be much safer to have the baby in Britain than over there. I am hoping and praying that she does not have to have the baby over there but if she does, I will go over to visit.

"Hopefully, it will not come to that," she added.

Sources involved with the case say there are concerns that if the Laos authorities do not agree to transfer Orobator before she gives birth, it might be decided that she should remain in Laos indefinitely.

Negotiations between the British home office and the Laos government are at a "critical point" at present as the UK authorities attempt to secure the transfer of the prisoner.

Initially, it was feared Orobator would face the death penalty if found guilty, but Laos law forbids the execution of pregnant prisoners. There has been speculation that she became pregnant in prison to avoid the death penalty.

She has told the prison authorities is that a fellow British prisoner, John Watson (47) who is also serving a sentence for drug smuggling, is the father of her unborn child through insemination with a syringe.

Her mother Jane was initially concerned that her daughter might have been raped by a prison officer at the all-female Phonthong prison.