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15 March 2019, 03:38 | Glen Norman
Vietnam Asks Malaysia to Free Woman Accused of Poisoning Kim Jong Nam
Vietnam yesterday asked Malaysia to free the Vietnamese woman charged with murdering the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Kuala Lumpur, a day after her Indonesian co-accused was suddenly released.
Vietnam's Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh, who is also the foreign minister, spoke with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah by telephone on Tuesday and discussed Doan Thi Huong's indictment in the alleged murder of Kim Chol among other bilateral issues. A statement posted on the ministry's website said Minh requested the Malaysian court conduct a fair trial and free Huong. The call between the foreign ministers came as a surprise as Vietnam had refrained from publicly lobbying for her release until Tuesday.
On Monday (March 11), the Shah Alam High Court granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal to Siti Aisyah.
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, a suspect in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is set to appear in court on Thursday.
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The two women had allegedly smeared VX nerve agent on Jong-nam's face at KLIA2 on Feb 13, 2017.
In her defense, Siti said that some people - who she thinks were Korean or Japanese - paid $90 for a "prank" to be aired in a TV show.
Her sudden release prompted questions about interference in Malaysia's justice system, particularly after the Indonesian government revealed that it had lobbied Kuala Lumpur on the case, including pressure from PresidentJoko Widodo.
"There is a law that allows charges to be withdrawn".
"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said.
Some South Korean lawmakers said the North Korean regime had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule.
Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of their late father Kim Jong Il, and therefore presented a potential threat to Kim Jong Il's legitimacy as ruler of North Korea.
Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair to her because the judge a year ago had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against them. Pyongyang denies the accusation.
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He denied that the Malaysian government caved in to diplomatic pressure to free Siti.
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