Malaysia court frees Australian grandmother in drug case


The Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur has acquitted an Australian woman sentenced to death for drug-trafficking in Malaysia by a lower court, quashing her earlier conviction.

She was convicted by the Court of Appeal a year ago of having 1.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in her bag when she was arrested in December 2014 at Kuala Lumpur's global airport.

There is a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Malaysia now as legislation is pending that will remove mandatory death penalties for traffickers, and give judges greater discretion in sentencing.

She was initially cleared of charges in 2017 by the court when the judge said that she was innocent and did not know that she was carrying drugs.

"Australian consular officers have provided assistance to Ms Pinto Exposto since she was arrested on 7 December, 2014", Ms Payne said in a statement.

"I never had any doubt she would be freed", the 38-year-old said, blinking back tears.

"I'm going out to eat a steak and drink some wine because those five years I did not have any".

Her son Hugo said his family was delighted with the decision and that they "had just tried to take it one day at a time and do everything we can" throughout the five year ordeal.

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But she said the man emptied the bag and showed her there was nothing but clothing inside.

The mother of four was escorted into court shackled, wearing a purple blouse, short black hair and thick rimmed glasses.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto (3) will appear in the final appeals court in Malaysia to hear the verdict of her crime.

A professor from the University of Melbourne specialising in cyber security had said during the grandmother's trial she was a "textbook romance scam victim".

"Her behaviour was totally consistent with innocence", Mr Shafee told the judges.

Exposto has said that she went to Shanghai to meet a US serviceman with whom she had an online romance and had been asked to carry a bag full of clothes.

She thought they meant frozen water not crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.

Exposto, who lives in Cabramatta West in Sydney, was initially found not guilty by a lower court which accepted her defence that she was set up in an online scam by a man who identified himself as "Captain Daniel Smith" and claimed to be a U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan. She volunteered, ' professor Monica Whitty said.