Sydney woman Maria Exposto sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking

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A Malaysian court on Thursday sentenced to death by hanging an Australian mother of three, for trafficking more than a kilogramme of crystal methamphetamine into the Southeast Asian nation, but her lawyer said she was appealing.

She was caught with 1.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route from Shanghai to Melbourne in 2014.

She said she had been fooled into carrying the bag after travelling to China to see someone she met online called "Captain Daniel Smith", who had claimed to be a U.S. serviceman.

She was acquitted after the judge found she was scammed by her online boyfriend and was unaware she was carrying the drugs stitched into her bag.

Professor Monica Whitty's testimony helped secure Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto's initial acquittal, before an appeal court overturned it yesterday and sentenced the Cabramatta woman to death by hanging.

Sydney grandmother Maria Exposto has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling.

"We find the merits of the appeal, we allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the judge and find her guilty as convicted".

She said Ms Exposto clearly fit the profile of a scam victim and was "quite naive".

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, sentenced to death in Malaysia over drugs charges.

In December, trial judge Ghazali Cha, in his verdict at the High Court in Shah Alam, accepted the defence's argument that Exposto did not know the bag contained drugs and found her not guilty.

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. She told the court that she had agreed to take the backpack from the stranger because she was told it carried her online boyfriend's clothes. When the drugs were found in 2014 she reportedly said she had "never seen drugs in her life".

Exposto's lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and "you will win and you will walk away" following a further appeal.

"I'm happy now that I'm free", Exposto said at the time, according to AFP.

In 1986, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged after being found guilty of trafficking heroin.

In a statement Thursday to News Corp Australia, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people".

Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, imposes harsh penalties for drug offences.