Malaysia Sentences Aussie Grandma to Death by Hanging

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was found to be carrying meth in her luggage in 2014
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2018 8:01 AM CDT
this Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, file photo, Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, center, is escorted by police during a court hearing at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia.   (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf, File)

(Newser) – A 54-year-old Australian grandmother who was acquitted of drug trafficking charges in December has just seen the tables turn. The ruling was overturned on appeal, and a Malaysian court on Tuesday sentenced her to death, with the head of a three-judge panel saying "you are convicted and will suffer death by hanging," reports Free Malaysia Today. Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was returning home from Shanghai when she was found with 2.4 pounds of meth at a Kuala Lumpur airport in 2014. She maintained that she was scammed by an online paramour who called himself "Captain Daniel Smith" and dispatched her to China to file papers related to his retirement from the US army.

She says she was given a backpack by a friend of his at the Shanghai airport and that she believed it contained clothes, reports news.au.com. The Australian describes her as being allegedly "groomed" by Smith over two years. The court bought that story the first time, with the judge calling her "naive." Prosecutors appealed; she will now do the same. "An appeal will be filed in the Federal Court—the final appeal," her lawyer said per CNN. The BBC notes three Australians have been executed in Malaysia for drug crimes. All were men, and the last was put to death in 1993. (Read more drug trafficking stories.)

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