Kim Jong Nam murder trial: Malaysia rejects call to release Vietnamese woman

10:59 | 14/03/2019
A Vietnamese woman accused of assassinating Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, will continue trial after Malaysian prosecutors rejected a request from Vietnam to free her on Thursday (Mar 14).
kim jong nam murder trial malaysia rejects call to release vietnamese woman
Vietnamese national, Doan Thi Huong (2nd R)is escorted by Malaysian police at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, on March 14, 2019 to stand trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam AFP/MOHD RASFAN

The Vietnamese government had made the call after Doan Thi Huong's co-accused, an Indonesian woman by the name of Siti Aisyah, was released on Monday.

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

Wearing a bulletproof vest and a red headscarf, Huong arrived at the Malaysian court where she has been on trial for a year and a half over the assassination.

On Monday, the murder charge was unexpectedly withdrawn against Aisyah, who flew back to Jakarta to a jubilant welcome.

Lawyers for Huong - who could face death by hanging if convicted - then asked the Malaysian government to withdraw the murder charge against her.

The women have always denied murder. They say they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the Cold War-style killing using a highly toxic nerve agent, and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show.

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

The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August last year when the prosecution finished presenting its case.

Proceedings were scheduled to resume Monday with Huong, 30, testifying - but the unexpected release of Aisyah lead to the trial being adjourned.

Indonesia mounted a diplomatic campaign to free Aisyah, with the country's justice minister writing to Malaysia's attorney-general asking for her release.

Since Aisyah's release, Vietnam has stepped up pressure - the country's justice minster has also written to the Malaysian government seeking Huong's release and the Vietnamese foreign minister has pressed his Malaysian counterpart on the issue.

Agencies

Based on MasterCMS Ultimate Edition Ver 2.8 2018