Sydney woman Maria Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto is released from the High Court in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on Dec. 27 2017

A 54-year-old Australian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging after a Malaysian court unanimously overturned a 2017 acquittal of drug smuggling charges.

Director of Customs at Malaysia's global airport, shows the bag allegedly containing drugs that was being carried by Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto when she was arrested.

Customs officers found the drugs stitched into the lining of a bag that had been given to her by an online boyfriend, a man claiming to be "Captain Daniel Smith" from the US Special Forces.

Prof Whitty pointed towards Ms Exposto choosing to go through customs, and presenting her bags for inspection, as being atypical of an intentional drug smuggler.

"The High Court judge examined every detail in the evidence and in today's decision they simply reversed the decision without reason and sentenced her to death", reports Australian Associated Press.

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"Maria is a victim of an internet romance scam".

Convinced that she was indeed duped into being a would-be drugs mule, judge Dato' Ghazali had ruled that she was not guilty, and subsequently she was referred to Malaysia's Immigration department to be deported back to Australia.

Late previous year, parliament voted to remove the death penalty as mandatory punishment for drug trafficking, and leave it to judges' discretion instead.

He told Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto that she had one more round of appeal in the Federal Court.

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

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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.

Ms Exposto's lawyer Shafee Abdullah told her client it was a temporary setback, vowing Exposto would win the appeal, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Believing him to be a United States soldier based in Afghanistan, Exposto said the charming military man had "made [her] feel loved, he made [her] feel wanted", and would send photos of himself to the grandmother.

In a statement Thursday to News Corp Australia, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people". The drugs were discovered when she put two bags through the security scanner when exiting the airport. When the drugs were found in 2014 she reportedly said she had "never seen drugs in her life".

Three Australians have been hanged for drugs offences in Malaysia since 1986.

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