Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 18:12 UK

Pregnant prisoner in UK custody

Samantha Orobator at Laos's Wattay International airport

A pregnant Briton jailed for smuggling heroin in Laos has been handed to UK Ministry of Justice officials, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says.

The transfer took place in Vientiane, capital of Laos. Samantha Orobator will now return to the UK to give birth and serve out her life sentence in Britain.

Orobator, 20, from Peckham, south London, was caught with 1.5lb (680g) of heroin in August last year.

She avoided Laos's mandatory death penalty because of her pregnancy.

Foreign Office Minister, Chris Bryant, said it was "excellent news" but also emphasised the FCO did not condone crimes involving illegal drugs.

'Best possible outcome'

He said: "I spend much of my time warning British tourists of the dangers of using drugs in countries such as Laos, which have heavy penalties for these crimes.

"But I saw for myself Samantha's advanced state of pregnancy when I visited her in prison last week.

"The transfer means that Samantha will give birth in the UK, close to her relatives and under UK medical care. This is clearly the best outcome for all - not least her unborn child."

I remain extremely concerned for the health of John Watson, the other British prisoner held in a Laos jail
Foreign Office Minister, Chris Bryant

Orobator's mother, Jane, said: "I just want her to come back to the UK, that is my first desire. One step at a time, I just want her to have her baby here."

Mr Bryant also said the FCO was continuing to work for the early transfer of John Watson, a Briton from Bradford who is imprisoned in Laos.

Watson, 47, was identified as the father of Orobator's baby in a statement read out on her behalf by the local prosecutor.

Her statement said she had artificially inseminated herself while in prison using Watson's semen.

He is also serving a life sentence for drug smuggling after being detained in December 2003.

'Tireless work'

Mr Bryant said: "I remain extremely concerned for the health of John Watson, the other British prisoner held in a Laos jail.

"When I spoke to Deputy Foreign Minister Boupha earlier this week, I was assured that John will also be transferred, in his words, 'in the very near future'. I look to the Laos authorities to ensure that this happens".

Mr Bryant added he was "deeply grateful" to the Laos authorities and thanked the team in the British Embassy in neighbouring Thailand, "who worked tirelessly to secure this result".

Samantha Orobator
A statement by Orobator said a fellow British prisoner is the father

Orobator admitted trying to smuggle the heroin through Wattay airport in an effort to take it to Australia.

Before her trial in June she was held for nine months in Phongthong women's prison, where she became pregnant in December.

A Laos Foreign Ministry spokesman said Orobator's return to the UK was a humanitarian gesture that takes into account her pregnancy. Her baby is due next month.

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