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Doan's family urges her not to lose hope

16 March 2019

The Malaysian Attorney-General has rejected the request to drop the charge against Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese woman, for the death of a man from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at a Malaysian airport in 2017, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik was more blunt, telling the court the decision was "perverse".

The two women were the only people in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the morning of February 13, 2017, when Kim Jong Nam was poisoned with VX nerve agent.

Just as the defense phase of the trial was about to begin Monday, one of the women - an Indonesian named Siti Aisyah, 27 - was unexpectedly freed.

Prosecutors did not reveal why they rejected Huong's appeal but let Aisyah go free.

"God knows that Siti and I did nothing wrong", Huong told reporters in court through an interpreter, according to the Guardian.

Indonesian defendant Siti Aisyah was released as a result of a political decision by the Malaysian Attorney General, in consideration of a request from Jakarta to take "into account the good relations between our respective countries".

After the court hearing, Teh told reporters that the adjournment was also meant to allow time for the Vietnamese government to speak to the Malaysian government.

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Huong stood in the dock and responded to the judge's questions on the deferment request, saying she suffered from tension and stress.

South Korea accuses Pyongyang of plotting the murder of Kim Jong Un's estranged relative, who was once seen as heir apparent to the North's leadership. She must be given the opportunity to be attended by a doctor. Aisyah and Huong have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show. Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Ministry sent a formal letter to Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas, to which he responded on Friday last week.

The prosecutor did not give any reason why charges were not being dropped for Huong, 30, who is now the sole defendant on trial for Kim's murder and could face death by hanging if convicted. Prosecutors alleged that Huong and Aisyah wiped Kim's face with the chemical before washing themselves.

"My message to the other woman workers, please don't easily trust the others".

Throughout the proceeding yesterday, Huong appeared distraught and was sobbing.

Vietnamese diplomatic efforts have proved less effective on the part of Doan, though Hisham confirmed that the embassy of Vietnam in Malaysia, as well as the Vietnamese minister of justice and minister of foreign affairs were "communication with the Malaysian government to secure the release of Doan Thi Huong".

Vietnamese authorities had been tight-lipped about the case.

In Huong's village in Vietnam, her family was crestfallen.

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Doan's family urges her not to lose hope