Australian nurse facing death penalty in Malaysia

A 34-year-old Australian woman is to face a Malaysian magistrates court today on charges of drug trafficking and could face the death penalty if found guilty.

The Jalan Duta Magistrates Court hearing is expected to name the woman, who was arrested by Malaysian police on July 17 along with a Nigerian national, legal officials said.

Malaysian police said earlier that a decision was pending on whether to charge the pair under Section 39B of Malaysia’s Dangerous Drugs Act, which carries a mandatory death sentence for possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

The two were arrested by police after a search of their vehicle on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur allegedly uncovered one kilogram of methamphetamine.

The case comes as a Perth man, 32-year-old Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, faces charges of trafficking after his arrest in March for allegedly trying to sell 167 grams of methamphetamine.

If found guilty, Bird could also face the death penalty.

Three Australians have been executed for drug trafficking offences in Malaysia.

In July 1986, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, also from Perth, were hanged in Pudu Prison despite appeals for clemency. In June 1993, Michael McAuliffe from Queensland was sent to the gallows for heroin trafficking.

The threat of a death sentence for a further two Australians and the Nigerian comes as Singapore is looking to reform its mandatory death sentencing for drug trafficking. Singapore law minister K. Shanmugam this month introduced changes before parliament that would end mandatory death sentences.

The last Australian to be hanged in Singapore was Melbourne man, Van Tuong Nguyen, who was executed in December 2005 for heroin trafficking. AAP

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