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26 May 2018, 06:32 | Tara Lloyd
Australian grandma sentenced to death in Malaysia on drug smuggling charges
An Australian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging after a Malaysian court overturned an earlier acquittal of drug smuggling charges.
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.
The 54-year-old Australian grandmother had traveled to China in 2014 in hopes of meeting her boyfriend, a man she had met online years before who claimed to be Capt. Daniel Smith, a US service member.
In Malaysia, anyone found guilty of smuggling more than 1.76 ounces of an illegal drug must be sentenced to death. He said they would be appealing in the federal court.
Exposto's lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, responded, telling the court that Exposto was an innocent carrier hoodwinked by an internet romance scam.
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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.
Last year, Malaysian lawmakers voted to abolish mandatory death sentences for drug offenses and did not execute anyone for drug-related offenses that year, according to Harm Reduction International, a nongovernmental organization partly funded by the European Union that tracks death-penalty laws for drug offenses globally.
The grandmother-of-three was acquitted of all charges in December past year, but the ruling was later overturned after prosecutors appealed. It was a rare twist of fate in the Muslim-majority country, where hundreds of people have been sentenced to death in recent years for drug trafficking, officials told AFP.
Exposto was sentenced to death on Tuesday after a panel of three judges threw out her 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.
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Shafee, Exposto's other lawyer, called it "a perverse judgment, no reasons were provided". When the drugs were found in 2014 she reportedly said she had "never seen drugs in her life".
The drugs were sewn into the lining of a bag that had been given to her by her boyfriend, whom she had met online.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide full consular assistance, she said.
Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, imposes harsh penalties for drug offences.
According to the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, however, Malaysia carried out four executions.
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