Malaysia PM says release of Indonesian in N. Korea case within rules

Cheryl Sanders
March 15, 2019

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Binh, in a telephone call to his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial and free Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong", the government said in a statement.

Huong, 30, was accused of smearing the North Korean man with a nerve agent at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb 13, 2017, resulting in his death.

On Monday, prosecutors in Malaysia unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against Aisyah, who has since returned to her home village.

Siti Aisyah and Huong have maintained that they believed they had been hired to participate in a reality TV prank show.

Huong's murder trial is to resume Thursday, and prosecutors are expected to reply to a request by Huong's lawyers for the government to withdraw the murder charge against her as well. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law. I don't know the details.

"Thank God. We should be grateful that Siti Aisyah was freed. and could be reunited with her family", Widodo told reporters after the two met behind closed doors.

'I believe that my daughter will be released too because she is innocent.

One of them, Salim Bashir, said a letter of representation was sent to AG Tommy Thomas yesterday afternoon for his consideration.

Kim Jong Nam had fled North Korea shortly after his brother, Kim Jong Un, took over after their father's death. He had been living overseas for years but could have been seen as a threat to Kim Jong Un's rule.

Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said after Monday's court session that Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair if she was still going to be held. Although the two women were being tried together, the cases against them were separate, and the court had asked the Indonesian woman to present her defence first.

Aisyah's swift release had sparked anger in Malaysia, and accusations that the government had caved in to diplomatic pressure.

"Miss Aisyah was deceived and had no awareness whatsoever that she was being used as an intelligence tool of North Korea", he wrote.

In the courtroom yesterday morning, when the prosecution announced its surprise decision, Siti Aisyah turned to hug her Vietnamese codefendant, both in tears.

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