USA | Biden to work to end executions as government sets 3 more

WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Joe Biden is against the death penalty and will work to end its use, his spokesman said Saturday, as the Justice Department scheduled three more federal executions during before the Jan. 20 inauguration, including two shortly before he is set to take office. The Bureau of Prisons on Thursday carried out the eighth federal execution this year , after a 17-year hiatus, and it is likely to increase pressure on Biden decide whether his administration would continue to schedule executions once he is sworn in.  Advocacy groups have called on the Trump administration to pause all executions until Biden takes office. Biden "opposes the death penalty now and in the future," press secretary TJ Ducklo said. He did not say whether executions would be paused immediately once Biden takes office. Federal executions resumed this year despite the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 people and is raging inside the nation's prison system

SA man caught with drugs in Malaysia sentenced to death

Deon Cornelius was found carrying 2 kilos of drugs after arriving at Penang International Airport in 2013.

A South African security guard has been sentenced to death by a High Court in Malaysia after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Deon Cornelius was found to be carrying 2 kilograms of methamphetamine after arriving at Penang International Airport in 2013.

The 28-year-old has now been sentenced to death by hanging.

Cornelius's family initially thought he would get a 10-year-sentence under a deal with Malaysian prosecutors.

His wife, Angelique Cornelius's Facebook page is full of loving messages for her husband, but in her latest post, she shares the devastating news of his sentence.

2 kilograms of methamphetamine were found inside Cornelius's laptop bag.

He says the bag was given to him by a man named "Tony" to bring to Malaysia and that he was unaware of its contents.

However, the judge found that he had knowledge of the drugs in the bag and that he only mentioned "Tony" as an afterthought.

Cornelius, who has a 5-year-old daughter, was charged under Malaysia's Dangerous Drugs Act which carries a mandatory death sentence.

Source: EyeWitness News, January 23, 2015

Australian mother in drug case 'duped in romance scam', says lawyer

An Australian mother of 4 charged in Malaysia with the capital crime of drug trafficking was duped into carrying the drugs after falling for an online romance scam, her lawyer said today.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 52, was arrested on Dec 7 after arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) en route from Shanghai to Melbourne.

A routine Customs check discovered a hidden compartment in a bag she carried, which contained 1.5kg of suspected crystal methamphetamine, or "ice". She was charged on Dec 19.

Exposto has denied knowledge of the drugs, saying she accepted a bag that she thought contained only clothing from a stranger who asked her to take it to Melbourne.

One of her lawyers, Tania Scivetti, said Exposto had become involved in an online romance with a person claiming to be a US serviceman.

She travelled to Shanghai to meet him, only to discover that another person had been posing as her supposed love interest. It was there that she was tricked into carrying the drugs, Scivetti said.

"Basically she had been duped into believing she was going to see him, but instead she was duped into becoming a (drug) mule," Scivetti said.

Scivetti provided no further details.

Drug trafficking carries a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Anyone with at least 50g of "ice" is considered a trafficker, subject to the death penalty.

Exposto originally hails from East Timor but has been an Australian citizen since 1985, her lawyers have said.

She appeared in a court outside Kuala Lumpur on Friday for the scheduled presentation of test results on the substance found in the bag, but the court was told the chemist's report was not yet ready.

A new date was set for Feb 27.

The defence is yet to enter a plea as the court now handling the case has no jurisdiction over death-penalty cases. The case is expected to be moved up to a higher court.

Hundreds of Malaysians and foreigners are on death row, many for drug-related offences, though few have been executed in recent years.

2 Australians were hanged in 1986 for heroin trafficking - the 1st Westerners executed in Malaysia - in a case that strained bilateral relations.

Source: therakyatpost.com, January 23, 2015

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