Vietnam asks Malaysia to free Kim Jong Nam's murder suspect

Vietnam asks Malaysia to free Kim Jong Nam's murder suspect

Just four days ago, the future for Indonesia's Siti Aisyah looked bleak - she was two years into her detention in Malaysia and faced a possible death sentence if convicted of killing the half brother of North Korea's leader.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Binh, in a telephone call to his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah, asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial and free Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong", the government said in a statement. The call between the foreign ministers came as a surprise as Vietnam had refrained from publicly lobbying for her release until Tuesday.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong-nam, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur January 22, 2018.

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

Huong, 30, and Aisyah, 26, were accused of using the nerve agent VX to assassinate Kim, who the US and South Korea have claimed was Kim Jong-nam, at Kuala Lumpur's global airport on February 13, 2017.

Siti Aisyah and Huong have maintained that they believed they had been hired to participate in a reality TV prank show.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, left, smiles next to her lawyer Gooi Soon Seng after a press conference at Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 11, 2019.

Yesterday, deputy public prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad did not provide a reason for the withdrawal of the charges against Siti Aisyah. Siti said she was happy to meet Jokowi.

Ms Aisyah's release raises questions about the fate of the remaining defendant, Ms Doan, also from a modest background in rural Vietnam.

Kim Jong-Nam died on the way to the hospital less than half an hour after receiving the poison that was identified as the VX nerve agent, a colourless and odourless oily liquid classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the government said Justice Minister Le Thanh Long had sent a letter to Malaysia's attorney-general, Tommy Thomas, asking Malaysia to free Huong. "They (court) deliberated and the charge was withdrawn", he told reporters at the parliament lobby today. Pyongyang has denied the accusation.

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