An Australian woman was sentenced to die by a Malaysian appeals court on Thursday after being convicted of drug trafficking in the country.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was exonerated by the High Court last December on grounds that she didn't know there were 1.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in her bag when she was arrested in December 2014 at Kuala Lumpur's global airport.
Exposto had said she went to Shanghai to meet a USA serviceman with whom she had an online romance, and had been asked to carry a bag full of clothes. Her lawyer said Exposto would appeal to the Federal Court in Malaysia, her final legal resort.
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.
Prosecutors appealed however, preventing Exposto from leaving Malaysia and returning to her home in Sydney.
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"Criminals will groom these individuals and they will talk to them morning, noon and night, and they develop a very close and trusting relationship", she said.
According to her lawyer, she had fallen for an online romance scam and had been tricked into carrying the drugs.
An Australian grandmother has been sentenced to death in Malaysia for attempting to smuggle drugs from Shanghai to Melbourne.
When she arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to change flights, she mistakenly went through immigration as she was unfamiliar with the airport.
However, she was unable to leave the country after case prosecutors chose to repeal the case, asking that the older woman instead be sentenced to death.
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Yesterday Exposto's lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and "you will win and you will walk away" following the further appeal. "I am shocked with the decision", he said. Instead, she received two bags, which contained drugs stitched into the lining.
On December 27 previous year Exposto was acquitted of drug trafficking but faced a prosecution appeal against the acquittal on charges of trafficking 1.5kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia.
Exposto maintains she did not know about the hidden stash of "ice".
Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, imposes harsh penalties for drug offences.
In a statement on Thursday evening Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people".
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