Aussie grandma sentenced to death for trafficking

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was found with crystal methamphetamine stitched into the compartment of a backpack

A 54-year-old Australian grandmother has been sentenced to death after attempting to smuggle drugs from Shanghai, China, back to Sydney.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was arrested in December 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.1 kilos (2.4 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

The court has previously heard Ms Exposto fell victim to an internet romance scam and that she was tricked into believing she was in Shanghai to lodge documents for her online boyfriend's retirement from service in the United States army.

Prosecutors appealed, however, preventing Ms. Exposto from leaving Malaysia and returning to her home in Sydney.

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 said she thought she was carrying a bag full of clothes for him. Her lawyers reveal how she initially travelled to Shanghai in order to file documents related to her boyfriend's retirement from service with the U.S. Army.

She was acquitted of the death sentence in December, according to 9 News.

"It's disappointing as there was clear evidence that she was the victim of an Internet romance scam".

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"I'm happy now that I'm free", Exposto said at the time, according to AFP.

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.

Malaysian lawmakers have voted to amend legislation so that capital punishment is no longer mandatory in drug-trafficking cases.

This follows the Court of Appeal ruling which allowed the government's appeal to overturn the decision of the trial court a year ago.

They were the first Westerners to be executed under the country's renowned anti-drug laws which were introduced in 1983.

"Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people", Bishop said in a statement.

Despite the backlash, Malaysia hanged another Australian heroin smuggler in 1993.

The mandatory sentence is death by hanging for anyone found guilty of carrying more than 50 grams of an illegal drug. The country carried out four executions in 2017, down from nine the year before.

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