Malaysia: Won't Drop Case Against Vietnamese in Kim Murder

Cheryl Sanders
March 14, 2019

Huong's lawyers said they were deeply disappointed with the decision and the attorney general had a "moral obligation" to explain the reasoning given the worldwide nature of the case.

A Vietnamese woman charged with assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother lost her bid for immediate release on Thursday as Malaysian authorities refused to drop a murder charge, days after her Indonesian co-accused was freed.

"Now we can only pray for the best at the next trial on April 1", said Thanh, a Christian.

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.

Prosecutors did not give any reason for the remarkable retreat in their case against Aisyah, but the timing raised eyebrows in Malaysia as a High Court judge had just last August found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, 26, and Huong, 29, had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim.

Teh told the court the rejection of Vietnam's request was "perverse", and a case of discrimination, as the attorney-general had favoured one party over another, since the court had ordered both to enter their defence.

A Malaysian court on Thursday announced it would temporarily postpone the trial of Vietnamese citizen Đoàn Thị Hương, a suspect in the murder of a North Korean national in 2017, due to her health condition, Vietnam News Agency reports.

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.

It is thought that diplomatic pressure from Indonesia, in particular President Joko Widodo who is facing an election next month, contributed to the Malaysian government's decision to drop the charges against Siti.

Huong looked exhausted and was sobbing as she spoke to Vietnamese Embassy officials after Thursday's court hearing ended.

"It's so unfair. They were together, did the same thing, " she said.

Oh said Vietnam, which hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for an official visit and a summit with President Donald Trump last month, had pushed less hard for Huong.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia. He urged the attorney-general to be transparent and explain why he dropped the case against Aisyah but not Huong.

Both women insist they are innocent.

During the prosecution phase of the trial, expert witnesses testified that acute VX poisoning caused Kim's death and the nerve agent was detected on his face, in his eyes and on his clothing.

Analysts have said the case against Aisyah appeared weaker since there was no video evidence of her accosting Kim at the airport.

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 North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was defaced with graffiti just hours before the trial was to resume. Defence lawyers have said the women were hired to play pranks on strangers and had done several such pranks before the attack on Kim.

They remain at large despite an Interpol "red notice", equivalent to an worldwide arrest warrant.

Other reports by iNewsToday