Hanoi seeks Vietnamese suspect's release in Kim killing

Hanoi seeks Vietnamese suspect's release in Kim killing

Hanoi seeks Vietnamese suspect's release in Kim killing

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.

They have gone through the proceedings and the charge was being withdrawn, so this is being done according to the law.

Law Minister Liew Vui Keong said Wednesday that the attorney-general has sole discretion in withdrawing the charge against Aisyah.

On Monday, prosecutors in Malaysia unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against Aisyah, who has since returned to her home village.

She was arrested together with Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and both were charged with the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam or Kim Chol.

Huong's co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, was freed on Monday.

Lawyers for the women have argued all along that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

During the trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of two women assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight, allegedly smearing the liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, on his face.

Huong is set to appear in court tomorrow, after her lawyers asked the Malaysian Attorney-General to withdraw her murder charge.

The pair always denied murder, insisting they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the Cold War-style hit using a toxic nerve agent and thought it was just a prank.

Kim Jong Nam had lived in exile in Macau for several years before the killing, having fled his homeland after his half-brother became North Korea's leader in 2011 following their father's death. "I did not expect that today I would be released", Siti Aisyah said, adding that she was healthy and had been treated well in prison. They say the prosecution has failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

Vietnam provided legal counsel to Huong, but has refrained from publicly lobbying for her release until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Vietnam had pushed less hard on behalf of Huong, even recently hosting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for an official visit and a summit with President Donald Trump.

Siti Aisyah's trial was suspended in December as her lawyers argued with prosecutors over access to statements made by seven witnesses. The attorney-general agreed to the request last week. Pyongyang has denied the accusation.

"Thank God. We should be grateful that Siti Aisyah was freed. and could be reunited with her family", Widodo told reporters after the two met behind closed doors.

"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said.

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