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15 March 2019, 11:57 | Glen Norman
Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing
A Vietnamese woman suspected of assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother lost her bid for immediate release Thursday as Malaysian authorities refused to drop a murder charge, days after her Indonesian co-accused was freed.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia said it regretted the Malaysian court's refusal to drop murder charges against Doan Thi Huong and set her free.
The decision to move forward with Huong's case was slammed by both her lawyer and Vietnam's ambassador, who had hoped she would be given the same leniency as Aisyah. He said Vietnam's justice minister had written to the Malaysian attorney-general seeking Huong's release and that Vietnam would keep lobbying Malaysia to free her.
He said Huong only slept an hour a night since Aisyah's release and was not in a position to testify.
The judge said Huong was not well enough to continue with the trial on Thursday, and adjourned proceedings until April 1.
But his daughter is still in custody after a Malaysian prosecutor said Thursday Doan Thi Huong would remain on trial for the gruesome murder of Kim Jong Nam with a toxic nerve agent at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.
Lawyers for both women argued that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
"It is so unfair. we are calling for help from the most senior people at the trial to consider releasing my daughter, free her as soon as possible", she said.
"Both the accused have said they were made scapegoats by North Korea, both of them said they were doing video pranks - very obviously there is discrimination", added Hisyam Teh Poh Teik. "I have no idea what is going on", she said.
It said that over the past two years, Aisyah's plight was raised in "every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting", including at the president's level, the vice-president's level and in regular meetings of the foreign minister and other ministers with their Malaysian counterparts.
Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor announced the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her and her trial would continue.
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After the ruling, Huong was seen sobbing as she spoke with Vietnamese embassy officials, before being whisked away by police.
A similar white top was worn by a woman shown in CCTV footage from the terminal minutes after Jong-nam was poisoned to death. The man was dead within 20 minutes, and the women - who said they thought they were taking part in a Japanese game show - were arrested and charged with murder. "The government gave us the best support but the other side could not solve it, what can we do", said Huong's father Doan Van Thanh from his village in northern Vietnam.
A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia.
The defense part of the trial is expected to discuss the role of the four North Koreans, who fled the country and are believed to now be home in Pyongyang.
The North denies the claim.
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