Australian grandmother Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia

By @chelean on
Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto leaves following her release at the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia December 27, 2017.
Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto leaves following her release at the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia December 27, 2017. Reuters/Lai Seng Sin

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto has been sentenced to death in Malaysia. The three judges of her case in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found the 54-year-old grandmother guilty of drug smuggling charges on Thursday.

Exposto, who was from Cabramatta West, was caught with 1.5kg of crystal methamphetamine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Dec. 7, 2014. Her defence told the court she fell victim to an Internet romance scam and that she was led to believing she was in Shanghai to lodge documents for a “Captain Daniel Smith,” her online boyfriend who would be retiring from service from the US army navy. This Smith was allegedly stationed in Afghanistan. She was married at that time but her online boyfriend asked her to marry him in September 2013.

Exposto said a friend of Smith asked her to take a black backpack to Melbourne as a last minute request. Thinking there were only clothes inside, she said yes. However, customs officers at Kuala Lumpur Airport discovered that the drugs were stitched into the lining of the backpack.

At that time, search by customs official was voluntary; Exposto opted to have her bags searched. She said she had “never seen drugs in her life.”

Exposto was acquitted of drug trafficking on Dec. 27, 2017, but she faced a prosecution appeal against the acquittal charges of drug trafficking 1.5kg ice into Malaysia.

“We find the merits of the appeal, we allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the judge and find her guilty as convicted. The only sentence under law is death by hanging,” the judges were quoted by news.com.au as saying. Exposto can appeal once more, and her lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, said they would take it.

“You will win and you will walk away,” she promised her client.

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