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

Lamar Ellis
March 16, 2019

Huong's lawyer said the ruling had been marred by discrimination, complaining that the public prosecutor had not "acted fairly and justly" toward his client.

Malaysia's Attorney-General yesterday rejected Vietnam's request to free a woman accused of the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, and a court set April 1 for her trial to resume.

The 30-year-old, who could face the death penalty if convicted, sobbed in court when it was announced that her trial would go ahead. I don't know. I'm also speculating here.

He said he believes his daughter is innocent and told her to "stay calm and hope for the best outcome".

According to BBC news reports, Vietnam has been pushing for Huong's release, and the Vietnamese decision has come days after Siti Aisyah, Indonesian co-defendant was unexpectedly freed.

Indonesian defendant Siti Aisyah was released as a result of a political decision by the Malaysian Attorney General, in consideration of a request from Jakarta to take "into account the good relations between our respective countries". But Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly denied knowledge about it.

Huong and Aisyah were accused and jailed on charges of poisoning Kim Jong-Nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, 2017, with an internationally-prohibited toxic nerve agent classified as a chemical weapon.

Commentators here have called on the government to raise issue with Malaysia's release of the woman accused of killing Kim, noting that under the South Korean constitution, Kim and all other North Koreans are considered to be South Korean nationals.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor declared her trial in Malaysia would continue.

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The judge said Huong was not well enough to continue with the trial on Thursday, and adjourned proceedings until April 1. They were then seen meeting a North Korean Embassy official and an Air Koryo official before flying out of the country.

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In a separate statement on Wednesday, the government said Justice Minister Le Thanh Long had sent a letter to Malaysia's attorney-general, Tommy Thomas, asking Malaysia to free Huong.

The murder of Kim Jong Nam triggered a nationwide manhunt and a diplomatic crisis. The women claimed they had no idea they had been groomed by North Korean agents to carry out the murder and thought they were taking part in a prank TV show.

"It's so unfair. They were together, did the same thing", she said.

Under the Malaysian penal code, the conviction of murder comes with a mandatory death sentence.

The trial featured video recordings of two women allegedly assaulting Mr Kim.

Prosecutors said Aisyah and Huong were well-trained assassins but their lawyers argued the four North Koreans were the masterminds.

The defense phase of the trial is expected to shift the focus onto the absent North Koreans.

They remain at large despite an Interpol "red notice", equivalent to an global arrest warrant. They were then seen meeting a North Korean Embassy official and an Air Koryo official before flying out of the country.

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