Aussie grandmother sentenced to death by hanging

Exposto was incarcerated at Kajang Women’s Prison Kuala Lumpur

Exposto was incarcerated at Kajang Women’s Prison Kuala Lumpur

An Australian grandmother has been sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia on drug smuggling charges.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was on her way to Melbourne when authorities found more than a kilo (2.2 pounds) of crystal meth sewn inside the lining of her bag at the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2014, The Guardian reported.

She fell for the scam after starting an online relationship with a supposed American soldier who had served in Afghanistan, lawyers claimed.

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.

"The High Court judge examined every detail in the evidence and in today's decision they simply reversed the decision without reason and sentenced her to death", reports Australian Associated Press.

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

"She was tricked into carrying the bag because of what we now call the internet scam, internet romance".

Exposto previously told lawyers she believed the suitcase she was carrying during her arrest contained only clothes that a stranger in Shanghai had asked her to take to Melbourne.

The ruling comes despite changes to Malaysian law past year which made the death penalty no longer mandatory for drug mules.

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

When she arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to change flights, she mistakenly went through immigration as she was unfamiliar with the airport.

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

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

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

Yesterday Exposto's lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and "you will win and you will walk away" following the further appeal.

She did not know the drugs were there and even volunteered that her bag be scanned through an airport X-ray machine.

Three Australians have been hanged for drugs offences in Malaysia since 1986.

Exposto was acquitted of the crime in December 2017 when the judge ruled she had been groomed for two years by the man, with whom she had fallen in love, and been scammed into carrying the rucksack, which had been given to her in Shanghai.

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