Laos' Foreign Minister confirms that Samantha Orobator will be sent back to Britain to serve her punishment there after her sentencing by a Lao court but British authorities must request her extradition.
Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Vice President and Foreign Minister of the Lao PDR, also maintains that Ms. Orobator, who was accused of smuggling 680 grams of heroin out of Laos, will not receive a death sentence. The British national was arrested at Wattay Airport last August and has since been jailed in a Vientiane prison. Mr. Thongloun goes on to say that although the government cannot interfere in the trial or sentencing by the Lao People's court, the fact that she is pregnant will exempt her from the death penalty that is stipulated in Lao laws for crimes of possessing drugs of more than half a kilogram.
Moreover, Laos and Britain have recently signed an extradition treaty, which means that London will be able to request that Ms. Orobator be sent to serve ther sentence in Britain after formal sentencing by the Lao court, according to the Lao Foreign Minister who explains,
"I signed a prisoner extradition treaty just last week with the British Foreign Minister. So we will implement that accord. The Lao government maintains a humanitarian policy regarding this issue, and the Constitution forbids the execution of pregnant women. Right now, we have to wait for court verdict and sentencing because the government cannot interfere with court activities. But the Constitution or Lao laws dictate that court proceedings must be carried out with justice and humanitarianism."
Lao criminal laws stipulate that anyone convicted of possessing more than 500 grams of drugs must be punished by execution, but that punishment will not be carried out on pregnant women, which applies to Samantha Orobator.
The circumstances surrounding her pregnancy are not clear, although the Lao spokesperson, Kenthong Nouanthasing, has said earlier that she was already pregnant when she was arrested.
For more details in Lao, listen to our report or click on the link to Lao version.
VOA Bangkok stringer Songrit Pongern reported on May 18. (English summary by Dara Baccam.)