Australian grandma sentenced to death for drugs in Malaysia

Adjust Comment Print

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.

Upon leaving Shanghai, Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was approached by a stranger, who asked her to take a backpack back to Melbourne.

It was alleged that Ms Exposto fell for an online romance scam, with 9 News reporting that she was lured to carry the drugs by a man who claimed to be a U.S. soldier based in Afghanistan.

Customs officers discovered the drugs stitched into a compartment of her backpack, after she went through customs under the impression that she had "nothing to hide", says her lawyer.

"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. According to, a Malaysian appeal court has now overturned an earlier acquittal.

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

Exposto, from Sydney, said she did not know the drugs were there, and had voluntarily put the bag through the airport scanner during a stopover in Kuala Lumpur.

On December 27 past year Exposto was acquitted of drug trafficking but faced a prosecution appeal against the acquittal on charges of trafficking 1.5kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto's lawyers said a three-judge panel unanimously threw out the previous ruling.

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. "You are convicted and will suffer death by hanging", said Justice Mohtaruddin Baki who chaired a three-man bench. She allegedly believed she was submitting paperwork there for her "boyfriend's" retirement.

Shafee Abdullah now plans to make a final appeal to Malaysia's top court.

The lawyers claimed she did not know the drugs were there, saying she had "never seen drugs in her life", and volunteered her bag to be scanned by an airport X-ray machine.

"I wish you good luck", he said in giving the unanimous ruling.

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

Late a year ago, parliament voted to remove the death penalty as mandatory punishment for drug trafficking, and leave it to judges' discretion instead.

There are at least 900 people on death row in Malaysia, officials have said, but executions have been rare in recent years.