Tuesday, 26 March, 2019

Vietnamese woman in N. Korea murder case loses bid for release

Malaysia rejects Vietnam’s request to free woman in murder trial Doan Thi Huong
Ellis Copeland | 16 March, 2019, 09:26

A Malaysian court released Siti after the prosecution dropped the murder charge against her without giving a reason.

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.

"We regret the fact that the Malaysian court did not set free Doan Thi Huong immediately", Vietnam's foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters Thursday. He said prosecutors were being unfair to Huong as her case was similar to Aisyah. "Very obviously, there is discrimination", he said, according to the Associated Press. "More so in this case because two people were charged, but it was withdrawn against one but not against the other".

Hanoi had requested the release of Doan Thi Huong, 30, one of two women who claim they were duped into smearing VX poison on to Kim Jong-nam's face at Kuala Lumpur worldwide airport in February 2017, believing they were taking part in a prank for a television show.

But Huong says she was duped by North Korean spies into approaching him, believing it was a harmless prank for a TV show.

The judge ruled last August that evidence presented by the prosecution in the first phase was "credible", requiring the defense for both defendants to present the case for their innocence in the face of possible death sentences.

Huong was one of two women charged with the February 2017 murder of Kim Jong Nam, an offense punishable by hanging.

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. "We will arrange a letter for her treatment".

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He also sought a deferment of the trial, saying Huong has been unwell since Aisyah's release and is not in a position to testify.

"Please be patient, the Vietnamese government will support your release", he said in a message to his daughter.

Commentators here have called on the government to raise issue with Malaysia's release of the woman accused of killing Kim, noting that under the South Korean constitution, Kim and all other North Koreans are considered to be South Korean nationals. 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.

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

"I had hoped for good news today, but...there is none..." "I have no idea what is going on", she said.

In Vietnam, Huong's stepmother, Nguyen Thi Vy, said the decision saddened her.

Prosecutors have said the women were trained killers who knew they were holding poison.

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