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Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing

14 March 2019

Malaysian authorities have rejected a plea to drop the murder case against Doan Thi Huong, the Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea's leader.

Kim died in 2017 after a toxic nerve agent was smeared on his face at Kuala Lumpur Airport.

He said the refusal of the AG to withdraw the murder charge against Doan after doing exactly that without giving any reasons in the case of her Indonesian co-accused two days ago "is mind-boggling and raises questions about the powers of the AG".

"I want my family to pray for me".

Her lawyer said she had been unable to sleep since the unexpected release of Siti Aisyah, who flew to Jakarta the day she walked free from court. They did not offer any explanation but it followed intense lobbying from the Indonesian government.

Judge Azmi Ariffin said Huong was not "physically and mentally" well enough to continue with the trial on Thursday, and adjourned proceedings until April 1.

Vietnam's foreign ministry said it regretted the Malaysian court's decision not to immediately free Huong. Vietnam's justice minister had also written to Malaysia's attorney-general asking for her to be freed.

Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats and said the real killers were four North Koreans, who were suspected of being the masterminds behind the plot but fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.

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Prosecutors said the women had been specially trained to murder the estranged relative of Kim Jong Un, once seen as heir apparent to the North's leadership, but their lawyers insist they were innocent pawns. The women claimed they had no idea they had been groomed by North Korean agents to carry out the murder and thought they were taking part in a prank TV show.

Indonesia had mounted a sustained diplomatic offensive to free 27-year-old Aisyah, while Vietnam had only stepped up pressure since the Indonesian woman's release this week.

The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August previous year when the prosecution finished presenting its case. He said prosecutors were being unfair to Huong as her case was similar to Aisyah.

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.

In a statement, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said subjecting Doan to further prosecution, but not her co-accused, "particularly when a prima facie case has been found against both of them is, with respect, unprecedented and regrettable".

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

Huong's lawyers said they were deeply disappointed with the decision and the attorney general had a "moral obligation" to explain the reasoning given the global nature of the case.

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

Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing