Australian grandma sentenced to death for drugs in Malaysia

Australian grandma sentenced to death in Malaysia on drug smuggling charges

Australian Grandmother Sentenced To Death Over Drug Smuggling

An appeals court Thursday overturned Exposto's acquittal and found her guilty of drug trafficking, according to Exposto's lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, AFP reported.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was arrested in December 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.1 kilos (2.4 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

She said she had been fooled into carrying the bag after travelling to China to see someone she met online called "Captain Daniel Smith", who had claimed to be a USA serviceman.

After three years in prison, she was found not guilty of drug trafficking in December 2017, with the court accepting her argument that she had been unaware of the presence of drugs in her luggage.

But prosecutors filed an appeal this year and the courts overturned her acquittal.

Sydney woman Maria Exposto has been sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug smuggling. The report did not say who handed her the backpack.

A Malaysian High Court judge ruled at the time that Exposto wasn't aware she was transporting the drugs and had fallen victim to an online romance scam. "She was a drug mule", Exposto's lawyer, Tania Scivetti, told the Associated Press.

Late previous year, parliament voted to remove the death penalty as mandatory punishment for drug trafficking, and leave it to judges' discretion instead.

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However, she was unable to leave the country after case prosecutors chose to repeal the case, asking that the older woman instead be sentenced to death.

The three judges sitting in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found the 54-year-old guilty but said she had a right of further appeal on the methamphetamine charges and wished her luck.

She had claimed she was the victim of a set-up after she was found with the drugs in her bag after arriving on a flight from China in 2014.

Exposto's lawyer Shafee Abdullah said he was totally shocked by the reversal of the judgment, which he described as perverse.

Exposto said that Smith had asked to marry her in September 2013; however, she had never actually met him, nor could the courts prove that he even existed.

"Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people", Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.

Two Australians were hanged in Malaysia in 1986 for heroin trafficking - the first Westerners to be executed in the country - in a case that strained relations between the two countries.

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