Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010
FROM ANDREW DRUMMOND, BANGKOK

The British prison inmate who fathered Samantha Orobator's baby in a jail in Laos has been sent back to Britain as part of the new Prisoner Transfer Treaty with the communist country, it was confirmed today.

 But although Orobator will only serve only 18 months of her life sentence for drugs trafficking in Laos, John Watson, 48, is unlikely to get such an early release.




Nigerian born Samantha Orobator, who was returned to the UK last year, had her life sentence for trafficking in 680 grams of heroin cut in January at the High Court in London to 18 months in prison in the UK.  She lost a plea to be released immediately.


Orobator had been recruited as a drugs courier in Amsterdam.


Shortly after her return to the UK she had given birth to a baby girl who is now seven months old.


'Clandestine artificial insemination'


The charity 'Reprieve' campaigned for her release decrying Laos's justice and claiming at one stage she may have been raped by a guard in the prison.




Samantha Orobator  was not raped. Watson 'assisted in her pregnancy' in Vientiane's Phongthong Prison so that she could avoid the death penalty. The High Court was told  she became pregnant by 'clandestine artificial insemination'.


But in conversations  by mobile phone with his mother Pat in Halifax, Watson said there had been 'free association' in the foreigners prison and congratulated her on the fact that she would soon be a grandmother.


Watson was charged with trafficking in 555 grams of methamphetamines, a lesser charge than Orobator and was sentenced in March 2006 to life imprisonment.


A FCO spokesman said: 'We can confirm John Watson was returned to the UK last Friday.'


 


Comment:  This is an interesting case and demonstrates, once again, the major factors and perhaps even hypocracies, which dictate news, public opinion and even justice.


It is a fact that Samantha Orobator, an intelligent woman,  did not receive any sort of, what we see in the west as,  justice,  after being arrested in Laos for heroin trafficking.  In Laos if you fail to repent you suffer the consequences.  It is also a fact that she did the crime, although she claimed she was beaten and raped by Nigerians before she did it, a story, which of course has not, and can never be tested, unless she testifies against her recruiters.


John Watson also did the crime and received the exact same lack of justice, as we perceive it, as Samantha.  Is he less innocent?


Well, yes actually this may seem so, if we judge by the result.  Unless he gets the same treatment he will be in jail still while his daughter goes to school.



Phonthong Foreigner's Prison, Vientiane: Andrew Chant


Similar cases in Thailand include  Britons Patricia Cahill and Karyn Smith, who were arrested aged 17 and 18, after being recruited by West Africans to smuggle a staggering 30 kilos of heroin out of Bangkok,  and who were later given a Royal Pardon, and also Lisa Smith, both an Australian and British citizen, and the daughter of the CEO of an influential Australian assurance company, who was escorted out of Thailand while on bail.


Samantha Orobator's case was pushed by the justice ngo 'Reprieve', the Smith and Cahill case was pushed by the justice ngo  'Fair Trials Abroad' and Lisa Smith, well she just did a runner, with a little help from some friends. But in any case the reality was that the officials at the British Embassy pushed the case for the girls on the grounds of their age.


(Ironically it was Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was then Democratic Party spokesman , who called me on my mobile to tell me of the girls' impending release.)


The High Court in London actually rejected a claim by Orobator's lawyers that she was the victim of 'flagrant injustice' and this was clearly a political judgment.



African prisoner in stocks in Vientiane


'The test is rightly set very high,' said Lord Justice Dyson. 'That is because it is important not to jeopardise or undermine the treaties for the repatriation of prisoners which the UK now has with many countries, so that those who are convicted abroad can serve their sentences here'.


But, despite this age of equality, is it any surprise that drugs syndicates choose young women to carry their drugs for them and that young women can expect better treatment once arrested?  But then again old values are worth hanging on to.


Pictures: Andrew Chant/ FPSS

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