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Sydney grandmother who escaped Malaysian gallows acquitted of smuggling ice FORGIVES scammers

Sydney grandmother who was saved from the gallows after being acquitted of smuggling ice into Malaysia says she FORGIVES the scammers who duped her

  • A Sydney grandmother who had been facing the gallows in Malaysia is freed 
  • Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was acquitted on Tuesday of trafficking about 1kg ice 
  • She says she forgives the people who duped her in an online romance scam  

The Sydney grandmother whose death row ordeal ended in Malaysia’s highest court this week is expected home soon but says she can’t forget what online scammers did to her.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was acquitted in the Federal Appeals Court on Tuesday of trafficking more than one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine through Kuala Lumpur International Airport in December 2014.

When asked what she would like to say to the criminals who landed her in jail Exposto told the ABC: ‘Love your enemy as your own, as yourself. I forgive them but I cannot forget what they did to me.’

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto (left) gestures as she leaves the federal court in Putrajaya, Malaysia, 26 November 2019 as a free woman 

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto at the magistrate court in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 at the beggining of her five year ordeal

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto at the magistrate court in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 at the beggining of her five year ordeal 

Co-Lawyer Farhan Shafee said Exposto was in good spirits after ending her five-year prison ordeal and had spent the day sightseeing with her son Hugo.

‘She’s out and about,’ he said. ‘She’s possibly shopping. Hugo was planning to take her out. After all she’s been in KL this long but she has not actually seen the city.’

Exposto is expected to fly to Sydney on Thursday night after finalising prison paperwork and Australian documentation.

The Federal Appeal Court overturned her conviction after senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued she was the victim of an online romance scam by a man who called himself ‘Captain Daniel Smith’, a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan.

Shafee said he had convinced her through almost daily contact that he was a widower with a teenage son over several years and ‘this effected her heart and she fell in love with him’.

He then asked her to meet him in Shanghai. He did not show but she met an African-American friend of ‘Captain Smith’ who then convinced her to carry a backpack filled with clothes to Australia.

The drugs were hidden inside the lining of the bag.

Australian grandmother Maria Exposto (pictured centre) in 2017

Australian grandmother Maria Exposto (pictured centre) in 2017  

‘This is another elaboration of how an innocent person can be scammed through an internet romance,’ Shafee said following her acquittal.

He said Exposto had not lost hope but added: ‘She was depressed when it dawned upon her, finally, that Captain Daniel Smith does not exist. That was a state of depression for about three or four months.’

According to the ABC report, Exposto had sent ‘Captain Smith’ around $18,000, even borrowing from her son to send money.

Shafee Abdullah said if Australian police had despatched an officer to interview Exposto in prison ‘that would have achieved two purposes, one is it would have supported Maria’s case in Malaysia, secondly it would be a way forward to open up an investigation in relation to the scammers.’

But despite the drugs being bound for Australia she was not interviewed.

Maria’s sister in Sydney, Rosa Pacheco told the ABC: ‘I feel sorry for her because she stayed there for five years suffering in that jail. I will hug her and I will kiss her’. 



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