Australian grandmother 'sentenced to death' for drug trafficking in Malaysia

Lester Mason
May 25, 2018

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.

She was arrested in December 2014 at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.1kg of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the lining of a bag given to her by a man in Shanghai.

The 54-year-old Australian grandmother had traveled to China in 2014 in hopes of meeting her boyfriend, a man she had met online years before who claimed to be Capt. Daniel Smith, a US service member.

Prosecutors appealed, however, preventing Ms. Exposto from leaving Malaysia and returning to her home in Sydney.

Under the Dangerous Drugs Act, anyone caught with at least 50g of crystal meth is considered a trafficker and is subject to the death penalty.

Mrs Exposto was married at the time but her relationship with her husband was getting "a bit sour" when her online boyfriend asked her to marry him in September 2013.

According to her lawyer, she had fallen for an online romance scam and had been tricked into carrying the drugs.

The judge had called her "naive", but added that her "feelings of love.[had] overcome everything".

Professor Monica Whitty's testimony helped secure Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto's initial acquittal, before an appeal court overturned it yesterday and sentenced the Cabramatta woman to death by hanging.

Malaysia is amending laws that no longer bind judges to hand down mandatory death sentences for drug mules. "You have another round of appeal and we wish you luck", Baki said.

They were the first Westerners to be executed under the country's renowned anti-drug laws which were introduced in 1983.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been strained since Malaysia hanged three Australians convicted of drug smuggling within the past three decades: twice in 1986 and again in 1993.

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

"I don't think she probably even knew what ice was, to be honest", she said.

In a statement yesterday Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people" and Exposto would continue to receive full Australian consular assistance.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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