Australian gran sentenced to death in Malaysia over drugs

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Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto (L), 54, is escorted upon her arrival at the Shah Alam High Court ahead of the verdict in her drugs conviction in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, on December 27, Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto has spent three years in prison

An Australian woman has been sentenced to death by a Malaysian court after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was arrested at a Kuala Lumpur airport in 2014 after she was found carrying 1.1kg (2.4lbs) of crystal methamphetamine.

The grandmother-of-three was acquitted of all charges in December last year, but the ruling was later overturned after prosecutors appealed.

Death by hanging is mandatory for drug trafficking in Malaysia.

‘Feelings of love’

Exposto was arrested in December 2014 while transiting through Kuala Lumpur en route from Shanghai to Melbourne.

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.

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.”

She was then released on bail but had to stay in the country as prosecutors appealed against the verdict.

Exposto was sentenced to death on Tuesday after a panel of three judges threw out her previous ruling.

However, she does have the right of appeal.

Anyone found in possession of at least 50g (1.75oz) of crystal meth is considered a trafficker in Malaysia.

Three Australians have been put to death for drug offences in Malaysia: Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers in 1986, and Michael McAuliffe in 1993.

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