Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing

Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing

While her co-accused Siti Aisyah is safely back home in Indonesia, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong will remain on trial for the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Huong, 30, has been trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport that shocked the world.

"Vietnam will request Malaysia to give fair treatment to Huong and release her as soon as possible", he told reporters as he left the court.

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". "Please call my father, call my family, and ask for them to pray for me". They did not offer any explanation but it followed intense lobbying from the Indonesian government.

The presiding judge said the defendant was not "physically and mentally" well enough to continue with the proceedings.

The Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Mr 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.

Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats and said the real killers were four North Koreans, who were suspected of being the masterminds behind the plot but fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.

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Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

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".

Huong's lawyers said CCTV video showing Huong walking up behind Kim and putting her hands over his face should have no bearing on the attorney general's decision, because both women were mounting the same defence and it had already been chose to free Siti Aisyah.

Proceedings were scheduled to resume Monday with Huong testifying - but the unexpected release of Aisyah led to the trial being adjourned so the Vietnamese suspect could also seek her freedom. Aisyah and Huong have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show.

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

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

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

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