No release for other Kim Jong-nam accused

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 16, 2019

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh called his Malaysian counterpart on Tuesday urging Huong to be released as well, according to Vietnamese media. He said prosecutors were being unfair to Huong as her case was similar to Aisyah. 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.

Describing the decision not to withdraw the charge as "perverse", Teh accused the attorney-general of favoring one party over the other.

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.

Huong says she was tricked into taking part and believed she was part of a TV prank. They were the only people arrested for the crime, after four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

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

The lawyer said he would also be submitting a representation to the Attorney-General's Chambers for the murder charge against Doan to be dropped.

In a shock decision, Malaysia released Ms Siti Aisyah on Monday. Teh said Huong was unwell and needed medical treatment.

Some South Korean lawmakers said the North Korean regime had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule. The Guardian reported that Huong looked pale and drawn.

Her trial, which was supposed to start yesterday, has been postponed until April 1 after the court found the accused unfit to take the stand. The defense phase of the trial was to have begun Monday.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong who was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Kim Jong-Nam murder suspect loses bid for release

Huong was sobbing as she spoke to Vietnamese Embassy officials after Thursday's court hearing ended. They did not disclose whether Huong's detention was discussed during Kim Jong Un's visit last month to Hanoi, where he met US President Donald Trump and Vietnamese leaders.

"I had hoped for good news today, but unfortunately there is none".

"I am very sad".

He implored his 30-year-old daughter not to lose hope, optimistic she could still be freed.

Speaking at the ministry's regular press conference on March 14, spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said that over the past days, Vietnam's authorised agencies have conducted various citizen protection measures to ensure fairness, as well as legitimate rights and interests for Huong. Conviction could carry the death penalty. "If Siti Aisyah can be released then why not Doan?"

Both women insist they are innocent. The trial featured video recordings of two women allegedly assaulting Mr Kim.

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.

The defense phase of the trial is expected to shift the focus onto the absent North Koreans. The Interpol has issued red notices asking governments to send them back to face trial.

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