Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Vietnam urges Malaysia free 2nd woman in N. Korean killing

Vietnam urges Malaysia free 2nd woman in N. Korean killing

Vietnam called on Malaysia on Tuesday to free a Vietnamese woman accused of the 2017 VX poison murder of the North Korean leader's half-brother, a day after a Malaysian court dropped the same charge against an Indonesian woman.

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh called his Malaysian counterpart today asking Huong to be released as well, according to state media.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is not aware of any G to G exchange with regards to Indonesian Siti Aisyah being released and her murder charge dropped from the Kim Jong Nam's murder trial.

Prosecutors did not give any reason for the remarkable retreat in their case against Aisyah, but the timing raised eyebrows in Malaysia as a High Court judge had just last August found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, 26, and Huong, 29, had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim.

The call from Vietnam's foreign minister was an unprecedented public request from Hanoi, which generally does not get involved in criminal cases involving its citizens overseas.

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

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.

Mahathir has said that Aisyah's release was based on the "rule of law" amid allegations the government had interfered in the trial.

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The women denied committing murder, saying they believed they were taking part in a prank and were deceived by North Korean agents.

The two women allegedly assaulted Kim Jong-Nam - half brother of Kim Jong-un - on February 13, 2017, at Kuala Lumpur airport, in an action that Seoul attributed to North Korean agents and which was captured on security cameras. Pyongyang denies the accusation.

Huong's murder trial resumes Thursday.

When asked what was the first thing she wanted to do, she said: "I want to see my family".

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the "prosecution will request the court to order a "discharge not amounting to acquittal".

"We have lined up four to five defence witnesses should there be no favourable reply from the AG", he said.

Prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad said the decision to withdraw the charge against her was made based on "several representations", without elaborating.

Siti had been working as a masseuse in Kuala Lumpur, while Huong described herself as an entertainer.

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