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Australian to test Malaysia's new capital punishment law

Grandmother's fate is in the hands of judges in a country where more than 1,000 people remain on death row

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Australian to test Malaysia's new capital punishment law

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto (center) leaves Shah Alam High Court near Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 27, 2017. The Australian grandmother said she was tricked into smuggling drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam. (Photo: AFP)

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When Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was convicted of drug trafficking in Malaysia early last year, a bench of three judges sentenced her to death but also informed the Australian grandmother of her right to appeal and went so far as to wish her luck.

She was caught with 1.5kg of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport almost five years ago. Trafficking is defined as anyone caught with at least 50 grams of crystal meth.

But her case has attracted widespread sympathy and legal interest with ramifications for more than 1,000 people on death row in Malaysia. Exposto, a lonely middle-aged woman, was the victim of an online love scam, and laws dealing with capital punishment have changed since her conviction.

It’s a complicated mix which could see her swing from the gallows after her appeal is heard in the Federal Court of Malaysia on Nov. 26.

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