Vietnamese national, Doan Thi Huong (C) broke down in tears as a prosecutor told a court the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her Photo: AFP
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A Vietnamese woman charged with assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother lost her bid for immediate release Thursday as Malaysian authorities refused to drop a murder charge, days after her Indonesian co-accused was freed.

Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor told a court the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her. She has been on trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport that shocked the world.

On Monday a murder charge was unexpectedly withdrawn against the Indonesian woman accused alongside her, Siti Aisyah, raising hopes that Huong might also be freed imminently.

Speaking through tears, Huong told reporters in court: "I am depressed. I am innocent... I want my family to pray for me."

The pair had always denied murder, saying 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, who were suspected of being the masterminds behind the plot but fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.

The prosecutor did not give reason why charges were not being dropped for Huong, 30, who is now the sole defendant on trial for Kim's murder and could face death by hanging if convicted.

Indonesia had mounted a sustained diplomatic offensive to get Aisyah freed, while Vietnam had only stepped up pressure since the Indonesian woman's release this week.

During the trial, some of the evidence against Huong had seemed stronger -- airport CCTV footage shown in court captured her approaching Kim, placing her hands on his face and then running away.

Aisyah was only seen as a blurred figure fleeing the scene of the crime.

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 testifying -- but the unexpected release of Aisyah led to the trial being adjourned so the Vietnamese suspect could also seek her freedom.

But on Thursday, lead prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad told the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, that the attorney-general had ordered the case against Huong to proceed.

The judge said Huong was not well enough to continue with the trial on Thursday, and adjourned proceedings until April 1.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia. The government vowed last year to scrap capital punishment but has indicated recently it may backtrack on the plan.

Vietnam had increased pressure on Malaysia to release Huong since Aisyah was freed, with the country's foreign minister this week pressing his Malaysian counterpart on the issue and the justice minister writing to the attorney-general.

? 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


16 Comments
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I will reserve judgment, but one distinction that comes to mind is that both Vietnam and North Korea are communist countries which may have more likelihood of collaboration.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The prosecutor did not give reason why charges were not being dropped for Huong, 30, who is now the sole defendant on trial for Kim's murder and could face death by hanging if convicted.

These aren't the murderers you're looking for.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Little Kim: These are the patsys you paid for..

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Pure politics.

Indonesian authorities stepped up their game, while their Vietnamese counterparts couldn't even muster up a quarter of the same effort.

Hopefully it's not too late but time is not on their side to spare Doan. Clearly she did not realize what she was doing. How can they free one but not the other?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

That's strange. Wonder why they'd let the one go and no the other.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Shameful “justice” by Malaysia. Why drop all charges agsinst one girl but not the other. Politics. The two women believed they were simply getting paid to prank Kims brother in a funny stunt, for a famous Malaysian comedy show. How were they to know it was potentially dangerous?

one distinction that comes to mind is that both Vietnam and North Korea are communist countries which may have more likelihood of collaboration.

Exactly what I thought. And the Indonesian girl has same religion as the extremists running Malaysia.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How can they free one but not the other?

Why not? It is possible that one was aware of the crime the other was not.? Or they found evidence for one but not for the other.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

We will never know, but it's highly likely that Indonesia and Malaysia being muslim countries had inside sway for the release of the Indonesian woman,

As others said, NK & Vietnam being "communist", who better to take the fall than a communist citizen.

And Malaysia doesn't want to either show it's long time collusion (easily verifiable) with NK, or it simply wants to cover it's own ineptness in letting the real killers escape back to NK right-under-their-noses.

How embarrassing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

but it's highly likely that Indonesia and Malaysia being muslim countries had inside sway for the release of the Indonesian woman,

I don't think Malaysian or Indonesian government is so low as to release a murderer just because?she is?a muslim or its citizen.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Ganbare Japan!

the Indonesian girl has same religion as the extremists running Malaysia

Just out of curiosity, what's the religion of the extremists running Japan?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Because she wasn't Muslim as Indonesian woman who was freed to return home. That's what Muslim country treated to non-Muslim person. It's ashamed of Malaysian Government.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Same as Nissan case one was released with bail & one took more than 100 days. One is America & the other is .....

Can we say its because of religion?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

These aren't the murderers you're looking for.

You're right, they aren't guilty of murder. Now, manslaughter on the other hand... That's a different story.

But damn, Malaysia is pulling some shady stuff here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Indonesian authorities stepped up their game, while their Vietnamese counterparts couldn't even muster up a quarter of the same effort.

This^^^

How can they free one but not the other?

I think you've already established the rationale for the irrational Malaysian justice system. Squeeky wheels gets the lube.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Malaysia is pulling some shady stuff here

Are you surprised? This is a justice system that threw its finance minister in jail for alledged sodomy...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As I stated earlier - there is enough reason to believe that there was some complicity by both govts in freeing the Indonesian woman with no explanation and charging the Vietnamese woman.

Malaysian policing / judiciary system is far from open and transparent. Any number of injustices have occurred over the years that are well documented. Look no further than the corrupt case against deputy prime minister Anwar Abrahim by those wishing to oust him.

Something certainly stinks about this case in Malaysia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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