Malaysia frees Siti Aisyah charged with with killing Kim Jong-nam

Erika Holt
March 12, 2019

"For two years and 23 days, Siti Aisyah was jailed in Malaysia (for the trial), the process was long, and she turned out to be innocent, having fallen victim to a conspiracy believing she was taking part in a prank for a reality television show, not knowing she was being used", he said.

It said that over the past two years, Ms Aisyah's plight was raised in "every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting", including at the president's level, the vice president's level and in regular meetings of the foreign minister and other ministers with their Malaysian counterparts.

Siti Aisyah was accused of smearing VX nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam at an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017.

Immediately after the judgment, Siti Aisyah stood up in the dock, cried and hugged her co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, before she left the courtroom. "I did not expect it", said the 27-year-old, who was wearing a red headscarf.

Monday was the first time Huong and Aisyah had spoken publicly in the more than two years they spent behind bars.

Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats, saying that authorities were unable to catch the real killers.

Four men, suspected to be North Korean agents, are suspected to have orchestrated the assassination.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, foreground, is escorted by police as she arrives at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Monday, March 11, 2019.

On Monday, the High Court judge discharged Aisyah without an acquittal after prosecutors applied to drop the murder charge against her.

In a statement, Malaysia's Attorney General Tommy Thomas said Aisyah's release came after intervention from the Indonesian government, which has repeatedly lobbied for charges against her to be dropped and for her to be allowed home.

Doan's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, added that he is applying for full acquittal and that his client was traumatised by the court's decision to only free Siti.

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"The Malaysian government treated me well, there was no bad treatment at all", she said.

"I do not know what will happen to me now". "We believe she is not guilty", he said.

Huong grew up in Nghia Binh, Vietnam, not far from Hanoi, and is thought to have been recruited by North Korean agents while working at a bar in the Vietnamese capital.

Huong was distraught following Aisyah's release.

"Thank God. I want to say a thousand "thank you's" if it's really true that she has been freed", Aisyah's aunt Darmi, who goes by one name, told AFP.

She was later seen leaving the court in an Indonesian embassy auto.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of late dictator Kim Jong-il, had challenged his half-brother's succession to the top post.

The moment was captured on security camera footage seen around the world.

But their lawyers argued the four North Koreans were the masterminds, and provided the women with poison on the day of the murder before fleeing. He had been living overseas for years but could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rule.

Lai Seng Sin / Reuters Siti Aisyah was on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader.

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