Malaysia rejects call to free Vietnamese accused in Kim Jong Nam killing

Sergio Conner
March 16, 2019

But his daughter is still in custody after a Malaysian prosecutor said Thursday Doan Thi Huong would remain on trial for the gruesome murder of Kim Jong Nam with a toxic nerve agent at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

Hisyam earlier told the court the attorney general's decision not to drop the case against Huong was "perverse", adding it "did not speak well of Malaysia's criminal justice system". The other, Indonesian national Siti Aisyah, was freed Monday in a surprise ruling and returned to Indonesia hours later.

Prosecutors did not reveal why they rejected Huong's appeal but let Aisyah go free.

On Monday a murder charge was unexpectedly withdrawn against the Indonesian woman accused alongside her, Siti Aisyah, raising hopes that Ms Huong might also be freed imminently.

Huong would face a death sentence if she is convicted of murder.

The spokeswoman affirmed that soon after the incident occurred, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed related agencies to meet Huong and her family, as well as finding lawyers and witnesses as regulated by the host country's laws and worldwide practices.

Vietnam's foreign ministry said it regretted the Malaysian court's decision not to immediately free Huong.

"We will request Malaysia to have fair judgment and release her as soon as possible", he said.

The trial is now expected to begin on April 1.

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South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit, which Pyongyang denies.

"As the AG need not give reasons for his decision, Doan will never know why she was treated differently from Siti Aisyah".

Lawyers for both women had asserted both made scapegoats in the assassination, alleging that North Korean agents had lured them into the plot to kill Kim by making them believe they were taking part in a prank for a reality show. There was security camera footage of Huong.

Another lawyer for Huong urged Malaysia's attorney-general to explain why he dropped the case against Aisyah but not Huong. "Her case is the same as Siti Aisyah's".

Yesterday, she sobbed in the dock and had to be helped out of court by two police officers after a prosecutor announced the attorney-general had refused to drop a murder charge against her.

In Huong's village in Vietnam, her family was crestfallen.

On March 12, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh talked over the phone with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah to discuss several issues, including the trial of Huong.

He was once seen as a future leader of the isolated country, but when his father Kim Jong-il died, he was bypassed in favour of the younger Kim.

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