Australian grandma sentenced to death for drugs in Malaysia

Exposto was incarcerated at Kajang Women’s Prison Kuala Lumpur

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto has been sentenced to death via hanging after allegeldy trying to move almost 1.1 kilos of crystal meth across the Malaysian border into Melbourne.

Exposto, arrested in Kuala Lumpur while in transit to Melbourne from Shanghai, has said she was decoyed into carrying the bag with the drugs by a friend of her online boyfriend, who claimed to be a U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan.

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

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would continue to provide full consular assistance to Ms Exposito in Malaysia following the overturning of her acquittal and imposition of the death sentence. When the drugs were found in 2014 she reportedly said she had "never seen drugs in her life".

Exposto claims she was catfished into meeting a USA soldier in Shanghai.

Tania Scivetti, a lawyer representing Exposto, who hails from Sydney, said her team had filed an appeal in a federal court.

The High Court in Malaysia apparently agreed and had acquitted her in December.

She said Ms Exposto clearly fit the profile of a scam victim and was "quite naive".

Scivetti told the AP that Exposto was shocked but calm after the ruling by the three-judge panel.

Malaysian courts had initially acquitted the grandmother, after her lawyer successfully argued that Exposto was the victim of an online scam.

When officials looked closer, they noticed the stitching inside did not match that of the backpack and when they ripped it open, they found grey packages inside, customs official Mohd Noor Nashariq told the Shah Alam High Court previous year.

Malaysian lawmakers have voted to amend legislation so that capital punishment is no longer mandatory in drug-trafficking cases. In 1986, Australians Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers became the first non-Asians to be executed in the country when they were hanged for heroin trafficking. When Westerners are caught by the laws, officials in the region say, they can not expect a double standard to apply. She was arrested back in 2014 for her crimes, and faced a mandatory death penalty in relation to Malaysia's strict drug laws.

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

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