A Malaysian court sentenced a Japanese woman to death on Tuesday for smuggling methamphetamine into the country, a court official said. A high court in Shah Alam near the capital Kuala Lumpur found Mariko Takeuchi guilty of drug trafficking, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to make public statements.
A customs official who also requested anonymity said the verdict marked the first time a Japanese national had been arrested for smuggling drugs into Malaysia, which is known for its tough anti-drug laws. Drug smuggling carries a mandatory death penalty by hanging in Malaysia. Takeuchi, a 37-year-old former nurse, was arrested in October last year at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after arriving from Dubai with 3.5 kilogrammes (seven pounds, 11 ounces) of the drug.
Takeuchi has testified that she was duped by a man into carrying a bag containing the methamphetamine but did not know the drugs were inside. She will be eligible to appeal the verdict. The customs official said Dubai is a frequent transit point for drugs destined for Malaysia, which are often then sent on to other countries such as Australia. As of earlier this year, Malaysia had nearly 700 prisoners, mostly men, on death row. More than two-thirds of those involved drug offences.