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Exposto ruling sets a refreshing agenda for the gallows

Malaysia’s highest court rules Australian grandmother was a victim, not a criminal

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Exposto ruling sets a refreshing agenda for the gallows

Australian grandmother Maria Exposto leaves a Kuala Lumpur court on Nov. 26 after being acquitted of trafficking drugs. She had been sentenced to death after earlier being found guilty by a lower court. (Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

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Malaysia’s highest court has left its mark on the international justice system when it spared Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto the hangman’s noose and overturned her conviction for trafficking more than one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine.

The plight of the Australian grandmother had been scrutinized by diplomats, human rights advocates and the legal fraternity after Malaysia announced it would suspend the death penalty and amend its laws, making it no longer mandatory to send traffickers to the gallows.

Instead, that decision would be left solely to the discretion of the judges, who would now be responsible for Exposto’s fate after a lower court bench of three judges dismissed evidence that she was the victim of an online romance scam and sentenced her to hang.

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