Australian woman faces death penalty for drugs in Malaysia

Australian woman faces death penalty for drugs in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - An Australian woman has been arrested in Malaysia - which mandates the death penalty for drug trafficking - after allegedly being caught with 1.5 kilogrammes (52 oz) of crystal methamphetamine, an official confirmed on Saturday (Dec 13).

The woman's name is yet to be revealed but Australian media reports said she is a 51-year-old mother of four who was arrested in Kuala Lumpur in transit from Shanghai to Melbourne.

Malaysian customs chief Chik Omar Chik Lim confirmed an Australian woman had been arrested in possession of the reported amount of "ice", but declined to give other details. He said she was arrested on December 7.

Anyone with at least 50 grammes of the drug is considered a trafficker in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which imposes a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction. The woman is likely to be officially charged next week but is expected to appear in court on Sunday as authorities seek to extend the initial seven-day period of remand for criminal suspects.

Hundreds of people are on death row in Malaysia, many for drug-related offences, though few have been executed in recent years. Two Australians were hanged in 1986 for heroin trafficking - the first Westerners to be executed in Malaysia - in a case that strained bilateral relations.

Last year, Dominic Bird, a truck driver from Perth, was acquitted on drug trafficking charges after he was allegedly caught with 167 grammes of crystal meth. His lawyers argued that a government chemist had make a mistake when analysing the substance found on Bird. He was freed and allowed to return home.

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