I first heard of this story about a week or so ago. The headline just stated that 19 year-old from South African is being held in Laos jail. After reading this article below I still feels that this young man is not telling the whole truth of the story. Also, no words from Laos government or that young laotian lady.
The story he gave seems to come out of some movie scripts. I don’t buy it at all and the Laos government probably doesn’t either. So? Somewhere he hitched a ride from this young girl and the storm rolled in?? They decided to pull over and it just happened to be in front of Cambodian Ambassador resident? Instead of seeking a shelter from trees along the main road or near by shops, they just invited themselves to the Ambassador’s resident. This is where they both crossed the line, especially when you’re a tourist to the country. Perhaps he didn’t get a chance to read the Do’s and Don’t pamphlet that Laos government posted everywhere. I don’t care who you are and what country you are in, you just don’t trespass on to people property. In some country they both might ending up dead. Hopefully this will some lesson learned for all the foreigners.
Magistrate’s son in Laos jail
Arno Immelman, the 19-year-old son of Paarl magistrate Anne-Marie Immelman, has been in custody in the infamous Phonthong prison in Laos for the past three weeks. He has neither been charged nor has he appeared in court.
What makes his mother’s nightmare even worse is that she has been warned not to “set foot” in the country because she, too, will be arrested.
Immelman said if Arno is not released, she will approach Fair Trials International for a legal adviser to “go there and get my child”.
Arno, who is taking a gap year, taught English in Thailand, but crossed the border into neighbouring Laos.
It is understood that, early this month, Arno and a Laotian woman were found asleep on a couch at the official residence of the Cambodian ambassador to Laos.
Immelman said he didn’t mean to trespass – it was just a big misunderstanding.
“Arno and this lady were [riding] on her scooter.
“It started raining and it was cold and they went into what they obviously thought was the guesthouse at which he was staying. The guesthouse is across the road from the Cambodian ambassador’s residence,” she said.
Immelman said the gate to the residence was open and so was the door. There were no security guards and they parked the scooter on the property. Both fell asleep. Immelman said there was no suggestion that the two were sexually involved.
“She woke him up the next morning when the police were already there. They were both taken away. She is a Laotian lady and that seemed to be one of Arno’s problems,” she said.
“Apparently it is tradition there that no foreigner must come near those girls.”
Eventually, South African embassy officials and an executive of the company for which Arno works managed to visit him in prison.
Velelo Kwepile, a consul at the South African embassy in Thailand, said the teenager seemed “okay”.
“We visited him last week. He said he [was] not stressed but he is behind bars and you cannot take that away,” said Kwepile.
He said Cambodian authorities called Laotian police when they came across the “trespassers” on the couch.
But the Cambodians have declined to lay charges against Arno and have expressed their willingness to have him released.
Immelman said she had last spoken to her son on June 30.