Lt. Colonel Khmaphone Sihapanja, head of the Drug Control Department of the Lao Ministry of Public Security, says the prosecution and trial of British national Samantha Orobator, accused of heroin smuggling and currently being detained in a Vientiane prison, will have to be delayed because of her pregnancy.
Mr. Khamphone says authorities want to investigate first how she became pregnant, adding that results of a recent medical examination show that the Nigerian-born Orobator is more than 6-month pregnant. This means that she conceived in jail after her arrest last August, almost 10 months ago. Officials are at a loss to explain the circumstances of her pregnancy because, at the Phonthong prison, she is separated from male prisoners, and taken care by female guards only.
Samantha Orobator herself has not accused anybody of raping her, although she had told Lao officials at the time of her arrest that she had been impregnated by her boyfriend in Britain. But medical results showed she was not pregnant at the time. Lao officials also say that, during November of last year, Ms. Orobator was seen by a British doctor seven times, each time in the presence of a guard. A Lao female official says it is possible that she impregnated herself by insemination, but a question remains: where did she get the semen?
Neverthless, authorities had said that Samantha Orobator will be spared the death penalty because of her pregnancy, and she will be eligible for extradition to Britain after a trial by the Lao People's Court, since Laos and Britain have recently signed an extradition treaty.
Listen to our report for more details in Lao. (English summary by Dara Baccam)