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Nigerian Faces Death Verdict In Malaysia

An Australian nurse and a Nigerian man face the possibility of death
by hanging after a Malaysian court on Tuesday charged them with
trafficking methamphetamines.

Emma Louise L’Aiguille, 34, was
charged in a Kuala Lumpur court along with Anthony Esikalam Ndidi two
weeks after police said they were arrested in possession of one
kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamine.


L’Aiguille entered the
court in tears and spoke briefly to Australian High Commission
officials before sitting in the dock, hunched over in distress, for the
hearing.

No plea was recorded but the Australian’s lawyer said she
was innocent and was slapped once by a Malaysian police officer during
interrogations.

Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death
sentence by hanging in Malaysia, where hundreds of people are on death
row, mostly for drug offences.

Anyone found to be in possession of at least 50 grams of methamphetamine is considered a trafficker.
L’Aiguille,
from Melbourne, was in a car with her co-defendant when police arrested
them, attorney Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters after the court
appearance.

Police told L’Aiguille, who had been driving, that drugs were later found in the car, he said.
Muhammad
Shafee said two other Nigerians — L’Aiguille’s boyfriend and another
man — had also been in the car but had left the vehicle just prior to
the arrests. Police are currently searching for the boyfriend, he added.

“She
is completely depressed. She just does not understand how all this
could happen to her. She was just driving the car,” Muhammad Shafee
said.

He said L’Aiguille was a nurse who was in Malaysia as a
tourist and had visited the country several times over the past two
years.

He complained that defence lawyers were only allowed one ten-minute meeting with her before the court appearance.

The next court appearance was set for October 1. Pleas are not normally heard at the time defendants are charged.

No
further details were immediately available on the Nigerian defendant as
he was not represented by legal counsel at the hearing.

In March, Australian Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, 32, was charged with drug trafficking.
The
truck driver from Perth in Western Australia was arrested on March 1 in
Kuala Lumpur in possession of 225 grams of methamphetamine. The case is
still in the courts.

Since 1960, more than 440 people have been
executed in Malaysia, including two Australians put to death in 1986 for
heroin trafficking that made headlines as they were the first
Westerners to be executed under tough new anti-drug laws.

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