SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (Kyodo) A Malaysian customs officer has testified in court that a special security dragnet launched at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last October led to the arrest of a Japanese woman on charges of drug-trafficking, an offense punishable by death.

“That day we had a special operation where all passengers’ baggage had to go through the scanning machine,” Senior Customs Officer Elangovan Rethnesamy told the Shah Alam High Court on Tuesday, the second day of the trial of Mariko Takeuchi.

Takeuchi, 36, who was arrested on arrival at Kuala Lumpur Airport after a flight from Dubai, was charged with trafficking 3.5 kg of methamphetamine, an offense that carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia.

Rethnesamy said he was at the customs checkpoint on Oct. 30 as the chief raid officer when Takeuchi was caught with two packets of substance hidden under the lining of one of her three pieces of luggage.

On normal days, Rethnesamy said, passengers are randomly picked for screening and Japanese nationals and flights from Japan are not considered “high risk.”

He agreed with defense counsel Salehuddin Saidin’s contention that Takeuchi was not a “target” of the operation and that on any other day, she could have walked through the “green lane” for passengers with nothing to declare and would likely not have been stopped.

Takeuchi had told investigators she was asked by an acquaintance in Dubai to carry the suitcase to Malaysia and that she did not know the contents of the suitcase.

Rethnesamy said Takeuchi knew the combination to the padlock for the suitcase and she opened it when ordered to do so. He dismissed her counsel’s contention that he found the lock inside the suitcase and that the luggage was never locked in the first place.

The defense was trying to portray Takeuchi as an innocent carrier who could not have known about the drugs since they were sealed inside the suitcase, which otherwise held what looked like men’s clothing.

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