Indonesian freed after murder charge dropped in Kim killing

Cheryl Sanders
March 11, 2019

An Indonesian woman accused in the 2017 killing of the North Korean leader's half-brother was released from custody on Monday after a Malaysian court dropped a murder charge against her.

But the prosecutor in the case requested the murder charge be dropped against Aisyah, without giving a reason.

Authorities say the two women exposed Kim to the deadly nerve agent VX as he entered an airport in Kuala Lumpur, killing him in minutes.

Both Siti and Doan Thi Huong, from Vietnam, claimed they had unknowingly been tricked into carrying out the murder by North Korean operatives, who told them they were playing a prank for a Japanese comedy show.

Once the court released her, Siti Aisyah wearing a black traditional Malay dress and headscarf, was rushed to a nearby elevator and taken to the Indonesian embassy in an embassy auto.

"We still believe that she was merely a scapegoat", Siti Aisyah's lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, told reporters.

When asked what was the first thing she wanted to do, she said: "I want to see my family".

Siti Aisyah was accused of smearing VX nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam at an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017.

Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said the discharge not amounting to acquittal means Ms Aisyah can be recharged but there are no such plans for now. The foreign ministry said in a statement that she was "deceived and did not realize at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence".

While the court discharged Siti Aisyah from the case, it rejected her lawyer's request for her to be fully acquitted, as it said that the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerges. "I did not expect it", said Aisyah, who was wearing a red headscarf. "We do not know on what basis the charge has been withdrawn", Hisyam Teh, Doan's lawyer, said. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicized.

Indonesian Ambassador Rusdi Kirana said he was thankful to the Malaysian government.

In August, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence the suspects had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" with the four North Koreans to murder Kim, and ordered that the trial continue to the defence stage.

Other reports by iNewsToday