Australian grandmother sentenced to death by hanging for drug smuggling

Grandma sentenced to death for smuggling crystal meth

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

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was arrested at a Kuala Lumpur airport in 2014 after she was found carrying 1.1kg (2.4lbs) of crystal methamphetamine.

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

She was initially found cleared of any wrongdoing but on Thursday an appeals court overturned the verdict and sentenced her to death.

Three Australians have been put to death for drug offences in Malaysia: Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers in 1986, and Michael McAuliffe in 1993.

The arrest of Exposto, a former social worker in East Timor, shocked her family and friends in Sydney, who said she was a devoted and loving mother and grandmother.

She said Ms Exposto clearly fit the profile of a scam victim and was "quite naive". "She was a drug mule", Scivetti told The Associated Press, adding that they have appealed to Malaysia's top court.

Late a year ago, she was found not guilty of drug trafficking by the Malaysian High Court.

He told Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto that she had one more round of appeal in 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. She allegedly believed she was submitting paperwork there for her "boyfriend's" retirement.

"I can confirm a notice of appeal has been filed with the court", a lawyer with Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who represents Exposto, told AAP. "It's obvious I'm innocent", the lawyer said.

Exposto said she thought she was carrying a bag full of clothes for him.

In a statement on Thursday evening Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people".

In Malaysia, there is now a mandatory death penalty for anyone found with more than 50g of an illegal drug.

Kuala Lumpur Airport customs officers discovered the drugs stitched into the lining of a backpack after noticing an existence of something "green" during scans of her luggage.

Malaysia has executed three Australian nationals for drug trafficking in the past 30 years, leading to brief strains in diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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