Vietnamese suspect in Kim Jong Nam's killing seeking release

Vietnamese suspect in Kim Jong Nam's killing seeking release

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam, leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 14, 2019.

The attorney general is pushing ahead with the trial of Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong in the murder of Kim Jong Nam despite the unexpected decision this week to free her co-accused.

Both women have consistently denied the murder, claiming that they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the killing and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show.

Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh criticised as "mind-boggling" the attorney general's decision to maintain charges against one suspect after freeing another in the case of Kim Jong-nam's murder.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court they were disappointed with the attorney general's decision and said prosecutors were being unfair to Huong.

Vietnamese diplomatic efforts have proved less effective on the part of Doan, though Hisham confirmed that the embassy of Vietnam in Malaysia, as well as the Vietnamese minister of justice and minister of foreign affairs were "communication with the Malaysian government to secure the release of Doan Thi Huong".

Given her mental and physical condition, the judge accepted her lawyer's assertion that Huong was in no condition to take the stand and give evidence in her own defence, agreeing to postpone the case until April 1.

He said the move to release Indonesian Siti Aisyah but not Doan was perplexing as they were jointly accused and especially after the court ruled that there was prima facie to proceed with the prosecution.

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

The legal teams of both women have argued that they were pawns in the audacious assassination of Kim Jong-nam, 45, that was orchestrated behind-the-scenes by North Korean agents.

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.

Teh said, "Very obviously, there is discrimination". Teh said Huong was unwell and needed medical treatment. The defense phase of the trial was to have begun Monday. The foreign ministry said in a statement that she was "deceived and did not realize at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence". Under Malaysian law, intent to kill is critical to a murder charge. They say the prosecution has failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

After the ruling, Huong was seen sobbing as she spoke with Vietnamese embassy officials.

Huong's stepmother, Nguyen Thi Vy, was in tears as she slammed the court's decision.

Experts have said the case against Aisyah appeared weaker since there was no video evidence of her with Kim at the airport. The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was defaced with graffiti just hours before the trial was to resume.

On Malaysia's request, Interpol has issued arrest warrant for the four men, who are believed to be back in Pyongyang, but North Korea is not a member of the organisation.

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