A court in Malaysia sentenced a grandmother from Australia – who said she was “tricked” into carrying 1.1 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice”, into the country – to death on May 24.
The conviction reportedly calls for death by hanging. In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, anyone caught with 50 grams (1.75 ounces) of crystal meth is considered a trafficker.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was arrested in December 2014 in Kuala Lumpur airport with the drugs sewn into a compartment of the backpack she was carrying.
According to CNN, “Exposto claimed she had no knowledge of the drugs in her bag and had been scammed by a boyfriend she met online.” She reportedly “had gone to Shanghai to file documents in relation to her boyfriend’s retirement from service in the US army. When she left China, Exposto claimed she was handed a black backpack at the last minute, which she was led to believe only had clothes inside. The report did not say who handed her the backpack.”
“I thought there was an overwhelming case for the defense. I am shocked with the decision,” Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Exposto’s attorney told the AFP. He reportedly called the ruling “perverse.”
According to the AFP, Exposto said she was tricked into carrying drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam. She was reportedly cleared of drug trafficking in December after a judge in Malaysia’s high court ruled she was not aware that she was transporting the drugs. However, the AFP noted that prosecutors challenged the decision and an appeals court overturned the acquittal on May 24.
According to CNN, Abdullah referred to his client as a “strong person” and said, “An appeal will be filed in the Federal Court—the final appeal.”