A 34-YEAR-OLD Australian woman will face a Malaysian court on drugs charges that could lead to the death penalty.
The Jalan Duta Magistrates court hearing on Tuesday is expected to name the woman, who was arrested by Malaysian police on July 17 along with a Nigerian national, legal officials told AAP.
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, is already facing charges of trafficking after his arrest in March for allegedly trying to sell 167g of methamphetamine.
If found guilty, Bird could also face the death penalty. His hearing is due to take place in the next few months.
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 legal changes before parliament that would end mandatory death sentences in drug trafficking cases.
The legal changes would allow judges discretion to impose life sentences rather than execution for capital drug trafficking charges, under certain conditions.
These conditions include evidence the drugs offender was a courier and was not involved in other activities related to drug supply or distribution.
Mr Shanmugam said he expected the numbers of those facing the gallows would decline in years to come.
"I think it is safe to say more often judges will err on their side of life imprisonment," he said during a visit to Singapore by US Attorney-General Eric Holder.
The last Australian to be hanged in Singapore was Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen, who was executed in December 2005 for heroin trafficking.
July 30, 2012 10:40PM
News story from Herald Sun (Australia) and can be found here
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Australian woman faces death penalty for possessing methamphetamine