Vietnam asks Malaysia to free Kim Jong Nam's murder suspect

Erika Holt
March 14, 2019

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Binh, in a telephone call to his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah, asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial and free Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong", the government said in a statement.

According to Dr Mahathir, Siti Aisyah's release was made in accordance with the law.

Malaysia's prime minister said Tuesday the surprise release of an Indonesian woman who was on trial for assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother followed the "rule of law", after suspicions of meddling amid an intense lobbying effort by Jakarta.

On Monday, prosecutors in Malaysia unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against Aisyah, who has since returned to her home village.

Huong, 30, and Aisyah, 26, were accused of using the nerve agent VX to assassinate Kim, who the USA and South Korea have claimed was Kim Jong-nam, at Kuala Lumpur's worldwide airport on February 13, 2017.

Huong was accused alongside Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who was suddenly freed on Monday by a Malaysian court where the women were being tried.

"[I was] shocked at first, I couldn't believe it", Aisyah said of her release.

Lawyers for the women have argued all along that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. During the trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight.

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Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair to her because the judge previous year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against them.

She and Huong have been accused of poisoning Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with liquid VX at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

The women's lawyers have presented them as scapegoats. Vietnam provided legal counsel to Huong, but has refrained from publicly lobbying for her release until yesterday.

The court will resume proceedings on Huong's case on Thursday, pending a reply from Mr Thomas to a request that charges against her be withdrawn.

South Korea accuses the North of plotting the murder of Kim, an estranged relative of Kim Jong-un who was once seen as heir apparent to the North Korean leadership.

Siti Aisyah's trial was suspended in December as her lawyers argued with prosecutors over access to statements made by seven witnesses. "We are making representation to the attorney general for Doan to be taken equally.there must be justice". Pyongyang has denied the accusation.

"Miss Aisyah was deceived and had no awareness whatsoever that she was being used as an intelligence tool of North Korea", he wrote.

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