Vietnam family of Kim murder suspect urge her not to lose hope

Blanche Robertson
March 15, 2019

Huong burst into tears as a prosecutor announced that the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her; and that her trial would be adjourned until April 1.

Malaysia's attorney general ordered the murder case to proceed against a Vietnamese woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother, prosecutors said in court Thursday.

Both women have consistently denied the murder, claiming that they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the killing and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show.

Doan Thi Huong broke down in court after she lost a bid to be released from a charge of murdering Kim Jong Nam in 2017.

Prosecutors had sprung a surprise on Monday by asking the court to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah and free her.

It said Minh requested the Malaysian court conduct a fair trial and free Doan Thi Huong. It does not speak well of our criminal justice system.

He also sought a deferment of the trial, saying Huong has been unwell since Aisyah's release and is not in a position to testify.

The presiding judge said the defendant was not "physically and mentally" well enough to continue with the proceedings.

Hanoi had requested the release of Doan Thi Huong, 30, one of two women who claim they were duped into smearing VX poison on to Kim Jong-nam's face at Kuala Lumpur global airport in February 2017, believing they were taking part in a prank for a television show.

She has been on trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport.

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Her lawyers said while she was happy that Siti Aisyah had been released, she was now feeling depressed and had slept for no more than an hour over the past three nights.

"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. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law. "More so in this case because two people were charged, but it was withdrawn against one but not against the other". 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". The defense part of the trial was to have started Monday.

After the ruling, Huong was seen sobbing as she spoke with Vietnamese embassy officials, before being whisked away by police. "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.

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

A similar white top was worn by a woman shown in CCTV footage from the terminal minutes after Jong-nam was poisoned to death.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia.

The trial featured airport video recordings of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight.

The defence phase of the trial is expected to shift the focus onto the absent North Koreans.

Officials in South Korea and the United States say North Korea was behind the assassination.

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