Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Vietnam family of Kim murder suspect urge her not to lose hope

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police at the Shah Alam High Court outside Kuala Lumpur Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing
Kenny Thornton | 15 March, 2019, 12:00

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, center, is escorted by police as she arrives at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Malaysia's attorney-general ordered the continuation of the murder case against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor told a court the attorney-general in Malaysia had refused to drop a murder charge against her.

"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.

Earlier, Hương's lawyer asked the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General of Malaysia to release her after the Indonesian suspect had been freed.

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".

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

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

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.

Both Huong and Aisyah were accused of putting a poisonous nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam's face at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, 2017.

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Lawyers for the women have argued all along that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Analysts said Aisyah's release was in part due to politics and the improved relations between Indonesia and Malaysia that have come since Mahathir Mohamad returned to the Malaysian premiership past year after the stunning election defeat of Najib Razak.

'Both the accused have said they were made scapegoats by North Korea, both of them said they were doing video pranks - very obviously there is discrimination, ' said Hisyam Teh Poh Teik. "The AG favored one party to the other". The defense phase of the trial was to have begun Monday.

Prosecutors have contended the women were trained assassins who knew they were handling poison because they carefully held out their hands away from their bodies and went to separate restrooms to wash their hands afterward. Under Malaysian law, intent to kill is critical to a murder charge.

"She was taken to the psychiatric ward.it was just a physical and mental examination", Salim said when contacted by Bernama.

In Vietnam, her stepmother Nguyen Thi Vy said the decision saddened her. "I am not angry that Siti has been freed".

During the prosecution part of the trial, expert witnesses said that poisoning caused Kim's death.

She could face death by hanging if found guilty of the assassination.

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

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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