An Australian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia after a court overturned her earlier acquittal on drug-smuggling charges, The Guardian UK has reported.
The three judges sitting in Kuala Lumpur unanimously found Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto guilty but said she had a right of appeal on the methamphetamine charges.
“We find the merits of the appeal, we allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the judge and find her guilty as convicted. The only sentence under law is death by hanging,” the judges found.
Exposto’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told her it was a temporary setback and “you will win and you will walk away” following a further appeal.
On 27 December last year Exposto was acquitted of trafficking methamphetamine but faced a prosecution appeal.
Exposto was handcuffed in court where she was consoled by her lawyers and Australian embassy officials after the verdict, according to reports by News Corp Australia.
She had claimed she was the victim of a set-up after she was found with the drugs in her bag after arriving on a flight from China in 2014.
She was acquitted after the judge found she was scammed by a man she met online and was unaware she was carrying the drugs.
In the appeal the prosecution in the appeal argued Exposto had been wilfully blind, that her defence was made up and she had engaged in a “sly game”.
Abdullah said that Exposto was an innocent carrier hoodwinked by an internet romance scam.