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Malaysia rejects Vietnam’s call to free woman accused in Kim Jong Nam killing


KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s attorney-general on Thursday rejected Vietnam’s request to free a woman accused of the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, and a court set April 1 for her trial to resume.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader’s half brother Kim Jong Nam, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Vietnam’s call followed Monday’s release, at Indonesia’s request, of an Indonesian woman, who had been accused along with the Vietnamese, Doan Thi Huong.

Huong and Siti Aisyah were charged with killing Kim by smearing his face with VX poison, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

“It’s our complaint that the public prosecution has not acted fairly and justly to Doan Thi Huong,” said her lawyer, Hisyam Teh, who asked for an adjournment on the grounds that his client was unwell.

Teh told the court the rejection of Vietnam’s request was “perverse”, and a case of discrimination, as the attorney-general had favored one party over another, since the court had ordered both to enter their defense.

Vietnam’s ministers of justice and foreign affairs are communicating with their Malaysian counterparts to secure his client’s release, Teh added.

After the ruling, Huong was seen sobbing as she spoke with Vietnamese embassy officials, before being whisked away by police.

Prosecutors had sprung a surprise on Monday by asking the court to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah and free her. The Indonesian embassy flew her to Jakarta the same day.

The trial featured closed-circuit television images of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight.

Defense lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents. The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was defaced with graffiti just hours before the trial was to resume.

Interpol had issued a red notice for four North Koreans identified as suspects by Malaysian police who had left the country hours after the murder.

Kim Jong Nam had lived in exile in Macau for several years before the killing, having fled his homeland after his half-brother became North Korea’s leader in 2011 following their father’s death.

Some South Korean lawmakers said the North Korean regime had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied this.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez



via Reuters