Aussie grandmother’s Malaysian drug conviction overturned
A Malaysian court has overturned the drug trafficking conviction of Sydney grandmother Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, who faced the death penalty. A bench of five judges of the Federal Appeal Court delivered their findings in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Exposto, 55, was escorted into court shackled, wearing a purple blouse, short black hair and glasses as she stood motionless while the verdict was read. The relief in the court was palpable amid heavy sighs as the chief judge of Malaysia Tengku Maimum Binti Tuan Mat announced the ruling.
Exposto appealed her conviction for trafficking more than one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, through Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2014.
She was initially found not guilty in a lower court after it heard she was set up in an online boyfriend scam by a man who identified himself as "Captain Daniel Smith," a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan.
They arranged to meet in Shanghai but he failed to turn up. Instead, Exposto befriended a stranger and she testified that he had asked her to take a black backpack, which she thought contained only clothes, to Melbourne. In Kuala Lumpur customs officers found the packages of meth hidden inside the lining of the bag.
Prosecutors appealed against her first not guilty verdict and won and she was sentenced to death early last year.
After Tuesday's verdict, defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Exposto was the "perfect text book dummy" and her case was the first of its type in Malaysia with legal ramifications given the appalling "state of affairs of internet scams".
When told by customs officials the bag she was carrying contained ice, her response was "it can't be".
She thought they meant frozen water not crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.
"Her behaviour was totally consistent with innocence," Shafee told the five judges who were unanimous in reaching their verdict.