Aussie mum wins appeal, saved from death row in Malaysia, Latest World News - The New Paper

Aussie mum wins appeal, saved from death row in Malaysia

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PUTRAJAYA: An Australian mum on death row, who claimed she was tricked into carrying drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam, has won her final appeal and will be freed.

Ms Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was arrested in December 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur airport with 1.1kg of crystal methamphetamine stitched into a compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

The mother of four, who was stopped in Malaysia en route to Australia, had said that 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.


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 Muslim-majority Malaysia for anyone convicted of trafficking certain amounts of certain controlled substances.

But the Federal Court, 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 Maimun Tuan Mat.

Ms Exposto's lawyer, Mr Shafee Abdullah, told reporters outside the court after the ruling: "She is innocent. We always believed she is innocent.

"This judgment has a high impact. It will be an eye-opener for judges... This is an illustration, how an innocent woman can be scammed on the Internet."

Mr Shafee said immigration authorities would hold Ms Exposto in custody for a couple of days until her visa to Australia is approved.

Malaysia has executed three Australians for drug trafficking in the past 30 years, causing brief strains in diplomatic ties between the two countries. - AFP, REUTERS