Australian grandmother Maria Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia

The three judges sitting in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found the 54-year-old guilty but said she had a right of further appeal on the methamphetamine charges and wished her luck.

A prime target for smugglers, the naïve, lonely-hearted woman says was convinced to carry a backpack she was told contained only clothes to go and meet her online paramour, a man named Captain Daniel Smith.

In Malaysia, anyone found guilty of smuggling more than 1.76 ounces of an illegal drug must be sentenced to death.

On Thursday, the acquittal was overturned and Exposto was sentenced to death, according to AFP.

"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. However, prosecutors appealed the decision, which effectively barred her from returning home to Sydney.

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

Under the Dangerous Drugs Act, anyone caught with at least 50g of crystal meth is considered a trafficker and is subject to the death penalty.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was escorted by police during a court hearing in Malaysia in December, where she was exonerated of drug smuggling charges. "You are convicted and will suffer death by hanging", said Justice Mohtaruddin Baki who chaired a three-man bench.

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Mrs Exposto was married at the time but her relationship with her husband was getting "a bit sour" when her online boyfriend asked her to marry him in September 2013.

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

Defence lawyers previously argued that Exposto's willingness to put her bag through a security scanner shows she did not know the drugs were there.

In 1986, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged after being found guilty of trafficking heroin.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide full consular assistance, she said.

The foreign reaction to the case of Mr. Barlow and Mr. Chambers has provoked widespread criticism in Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, where Government officials said they would not be deflected from their "war on dadah" by Western or global protests when Western lives were involved.

Five people have been executed in Malaysia in recent years.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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