Vietnam woman in North Korea murder case has release bid rejected

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

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.

Lawyers for the women argued that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

Counsel for Doan Thi-Huong, Hisham Teh Poh Teik, told the court that she had not slept for the past three nights following the decision by the Malaysian attorney general to drop the charges against Siti.

He said government lawyers were being unfair to Huong, because her case was similar to Aisyah's situation.

Vietnamese Ambassaador Le Quy Quynh said he was "very disappointed" with the attorney general's decision.

Vietnam's government said earlier that Foreign Minister Pham Binh Binh had asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial for Huong and set her free".

Proceedings were scheduled to resume Monday with Huong testifying - but the unexpected release of Aisyah led to the trial being adjourned so the Vietnamese suspect could also seek her freedom.

The judge agreed to postpone the trial until April 1 but warned there should be no more delay.

Two women were accused of smearing a toxic nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam as he walked through a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal in 2017.

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Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, had been waiting to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau on 13 February 2017 when two women approached him in the departure area.

Analysts said Aisyah's release was in part due to politics and the improved relations between Indonesia and Malaysia that have come since Mahathir Mohamad returned to the Malaysian premiership a year ago after the stunning election defeat of Najib Razak. "It's very obvious, my lord, that there is discrimination", he said.

Last August, a High Court judge found there was enough evidence to show that Aisyah, Huong and the four North Koreans had worked together on a plan to kill Kim. Teh said Huong was unwell and needed medical treatment.

"She was taken to the psychiatric ward.it was just a physical and mental examination", Salim said when contacted by Bernama. The defense phase of the trial was to have begun Monday. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law.

Huong's stepmother, Nguyen Thi Vy, was in tears as she slammed the court's decision. "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.

Both women were facing murder charges over the death of Kim Jong-nam.

The 30-year-old, who could face the death penalty if convicted, sobbed in court when it was announced that her trial would go ahead.

Analysts have said the case against Aisyah appeared weaker since there was no video evidence of her accosting Kim at the airport.

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit, which Pyongyang denies.

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