An Australian woman sentenced to death for drug-trafficking in Malaysia was acquitted on Tuesday (Nov 26) by the Federal Court.
It was the final appeal against a death sentence. Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 55, was arrested in the Malaysian capital in 2014 while in transit to Melbourne from Shanghai. Exposto had maintained that she was duped into carrying the bag with the drugs by a friend of her online boyfriend, who claimed to be a US soldier serving in Afghanistan. „This is an illustration, how an innocent woman can be scammed on the Internet," Exposto's lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told reporters.
Image from Malaysia
Immigration authorities would hold Exposto in custody for a couple of days until her visa to Australia is approved. Maria kissed her lawyer in court after the ruling. “I thank God and my lawyers for my freedom after almost five painful years in jail,” she said in statement. Death by hanging is mandatory in Muslim-majority Malaysia for anyone convicted of trafficking certain amounts of some controlled substances. A reformist government which took power last year vowed to abolish capital punishment entirely but watered down the plan after a conservative backlash. There are hundreds of people on death row in Malaysia. However, executions have been rare in recent years.