Malaysia court sentences Australian woman to death for drug-trafficking

Prosecutors had sought the appeals court conviction, which overturned the earlier acquittal of Maria Exposto, 54, of charges of smuggling the drugs in a backpack in Dec. 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Malaysia court sentences Australian woman to death for drug-trafficking

  • Tania Scivetti, a lawyer representing Exposto, who hails from Sydney, said her team had filed an appeal in a federal court
  • Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, imposes harsh penalties for drug offenses

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Thursday sentenced to death by hanging an Australian mother of three, for trafficking more than a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine into the Southeast Asian nation, but her lawyer said she was appealing.
Prosecutors had sought the appeals court conviction, which overturned the earlier acquittal of Maria Exposto, 54, of charges of smuggling the drugs in a backpack in Dec. 2014, after she said she was duped in an online scam.
Tania Scivetti, a lawyer representing Exposto, who hails from Sydney, said her team had filed an appeal in a federal court.
“We are extremely disappointed,” Scivetti told Reuters by text message. “Maria is a victim of an Internet romance scam. She is not a drug trafficker.”
Exposto, arrested in Kuala Lumpur while in transit to Melbourne from Shanghai, has said she was decoyed into carrying the bag with the drugs by a friend of her online boyfriend, who claimed to be a US soldier serving in Afghanistan.
Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, imposes harsh penalties for drug offenses. Late last year, parliament voted to remove the death penalty as mandatory punishment for drug trafficking, and leave it to judges’ discretion instead.
Malaysia has executed three Australian nationals for drug trafficking in the past 30 years, leading to brief strains in diplomatic ties between the two countries. 


Warren ancestry highlights how tribes decide membership

Massachusetts Senate candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, and her opponent State Rep. Geoff Diehl shake hands before a debate in Boston, on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Warren ancestry highlights how tribes decide membership

  • For centuries, a person’s percentage of Native American blood had nothing to do with determining who was a tribal member

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona: The clash between Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and President Donald Trump over her Native American heritage highlights the varying methods tribes use to decide who belongs.
The decision has wide-ranging consequences for Native American communities and their relationship with the federal government.
Some tribes rely on blood relationships to confer membership. Historically, they took a broader view that included non-biological connections and people’s value in society.
The 573 federally recognized tribes are sovereign governments that must be consulted on issues that affect them. Within tribes, enrollment also means being able to seek office, vote in tribal elections and secure property rights.
For centuries, a person’s percentage of Native American blood had nothing to do with determining who was a tribal member. And for some tribes, it still doesn’t.