Australian wins death sentence appeal in Malaysia, walks free

(NST) – An Australian grandmother who claimed she was tricked into carrying drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam Tuesday won her final appeal against the death penalty and will be freed.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, originally from the Philippines, was arrested in Dec 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 1.1 kilos of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

She was initially cleared of trafficking after a judge ruled in 2017 she did not know she was transporting the drugs, but the acquittal was overturned after prosecutors appealed and she was handed a death sentence.

Capital punishment is mandatory in Malaysia for anyone convicted of trafficking certain amounts of some controlled substances.

But the Federal Court in Putrajaya, the final court of appeal, overturned that decision and ordered her release.

“The appeal is allowed. The appellant is freed and discharged,” said chief justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

The mother of four, who was stopped in Malaysia while heading to Australia, had claimed she was fooled into carrying the bag after travelling to China to see someone she met online called “Captain Daniel Smith“, who claimed to be a US serviceman.