Australian woman sentenced to death for alleged drug smuggling in Malaysia

Friday, 25 May, 2018

An appeal court in Malaysia has sentenced Sydney grandmother Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto to death by hanging after overturning her earlier acquittal on drug smuggling charges.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto has been sentenced to death via hanging after allegeldy trying to move almost 1.1 kilos of crystal meth across the Malaysian border into Melbourne.

Ms. Exposto claimed she had no knowledge of the drugs in her bag and had been scammed by a boyfriend she met online, according to CNN affiliate, SBS News.

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.

In a unanimous verdict, all three court of appeal judges ruled that the merits of the appeal were valid and found Exposto guilty, with the only sentence under law being death by hanging.

Exposto maintains she did not know about the hidden stash of "ice".

Prof Whitty told A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw she had interviewed Ms Exposto, 54, and had long experience researching romance scams in the past 10 years.

Shafee slammed the ruling as "perverse" and said Exposto would make a final appeal to the country's top court.

"There was clear evidence that she was the victim of an Internet romance scam", Exposto's lawyer, Tania Scivetti, told The Associated Press.

"I'm happy now that I'm free", Exposto said at the time, according to AFP. "You have another round of appeal and we wish you luck", Baki said.

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto is escorted by Malaysia Customs officer outside the magistrate court in Sepang.

"The accused closed an eye to the truth as she should have checked what was in the bag", government lawyer Muhammad Azmi Mashud told reporters.

Today, Ms Exposto's legal team was in the process of lodging papers for that appeal to the Federal Court.

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.

"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.