Malaysia Acquits Aussie Woman of Drug Trafficking

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, at center, is escorted by a police officer at a court hearing Wednesday at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia. Photo: Sadiq Asyraf / Associated Press
Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, at center, is escorted by a police officer at a court hearing Wednesday at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia. Photo: Sadiq Asyraf / Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR — An Australian woman was found not guilty Wednesday of trafficking 1.5 kilograms of crystal meth at Kuala Lumpur’s airport three years ago, avoiding a possible death sentence.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 54, was exonerated after Judge Ghazali Cha of the Shah Alam High Court said he was satisfied that she did not know there were drugs in her bag.

Malaysia has a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of carrying more than 50 grams of a prohibited drug.Pinto Exposto, a mother of three from Sydney, was arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in on Dec. 7, 2014, when the bag she was carrying was found to contain the drugs.

She had arrived from Shanghai and was to catch a connecting flight to Melbourne. The drugs were discovered when she put two bags through the security scanner when exiting the airport.

Pinto Exposto had claimed that she went to Shanghai to meet a U.S. serviceman with whom she had an online romance, and had been asked to carry a bag full of clothes. She said she was unaware that the bag also contained drugs.

Three Australians have been hanged for drug offenses in Malaysia since 1986.