Mother (54) avoids death penalty over trafficking drugs 'scam'
An Australian mother-of-three (54) escaped the death penalty yesterday after a Malaysian court found her not guilty of drug trafficking.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was found with more than 1kg of methamphetamine in her backpack while in transit in Kuala Lumpur en route to Melbourne from Shanghai in December 2014.
Under Malaysian law, anyone found guilty of possessing more than 50g of illegal drugs is considered a trafficker and faces a mandatory death penalty.
The law was amended last month to do away with the mandatory death sentence, allowing judges to use their own discretion.
Ms Exposto's lawyers said she was the victim of an internet romance scam and was lured into carrying a bag containing drugs unknowingly by a friend of her online boyfriend, who claimed to be a US soldier serving in Afghanistan. Ms Exposto's conduct during her arrest showed "she was naïve and her behaviour was that of an innocent person", Judge Ghazali Cha said, referring for deportation.