Release bid fails for Vietnamese woman in Kim Jong Nam murder

14 March, 2019, 16:24 | Author: Myra Gill
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A Vietnamese woman will continue her trial for the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, after Malaysian prosecutors rejected a request from Vietnam to free her on Thursday.

A Malaysian court on Thursday announced it would temporarily postpone the trial of Vietnamese citizen Đoàn Thị Hương, a suspect in the murder of a North Korean national in 2017, due to her health condition, Vietnam News Agency reports.

Doan and Siti were jointly accused of assassinating Jong Nam by smearing VX nerve gas on his face at klia2 in February 2017.

"I am not angry at Siti", Doan told reporters in court through tears, adding that she was "traumatised".

He said the refusal of the AG to withdraw the murder charge against Doan after doing exactly that without giving any reasons in the case of her Indonesian co-accused two days ago "is mind-boggling and raises questions about the powers of the AG". They did not offer any explanation but it followed intense lobbying from the Indonesian government.

Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Le Quy Quynh, told AFP at the court: "I'm very disappointed that the court did not free Doan".

Vietnam had increased pressure on Malaysia to release Ms Huong, with the country's foreign minister this week pressing his Malaysian counterpart on the issue and the justice minister writing to the attorney-general.

They were the only people in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

But today, lead prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad told the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, that the attorney-general had ordered the case against Ms Huong to proceed.

The decision has caused disappointment after the other person accused in the case, an Indonesian woman, was acquitted and set free Monday.

Defence lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents.

The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August past year when the prosecution finished presenting its case.

He also sought a deferment of the trial, saying Huong has been unwell since Aisyah's release and is not in a position to testify.

In one, a woman identified as Huong puts her hands on Kim's face, while a blurry image shows someone the prosecution identified as Siti Aisyah hurrying away.

Both women have said that they thought they were playing a prank, and had no idea their actions would have deadly consequences.

Abdul Rashid Ismail, a leading Malaysian criminal lawyer who was not involved in the case, said the decision to prosecute Huong but not Aisyah was "clearly unfair".

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged relative of Mr Kim Jong Un and once seen as heir apparent to the North's leadership. Pyongyang has denied this.



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