Kim Jong Nam Case : No bail for Vietnamese woman
A Vietnamese woman suspected of assassinating Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s half-brother lost her bid for immediate release Thursday as Malaysian authorities refused to drop a murder charge.
The refusal came days after her Indonesian co-accused was freed.
Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor announced the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her and her trial would continue. She has been on trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport.
On Monday a murder charge was unexpectedly withdrawn against Siti Aisyah, the Indonesian woman accused alongside her, raising hopes that Huong might also be freed imminently.
The Vietnamese defendant, who had to be helped out of court by two police officers following the shock announcement, tearfully told reporters: “I am depressed. I am innocent… I want my family to pray for me.”
Huong’s lawyer said he would make a second bid to get the charge against her dropped, and said failing to free her following Aisyah’s release “does not bring confidence to our criminal justice system”.
The pair had always denied murder, saying they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the Cold War-style hit that shocked the world using a highly toxic nerve agent, and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show.
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.
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.
Indonesia had mounted a sustained diplomatic offensive to get Aisyah freed, while Vietnam had only stepped up pressure since the Indonesian woman’s release this week.
During the trial, the court was shown airport CCTV footage showing Huong approaching Kim, placing her hands on his face and then running away. Aisyah was only seen as a blurred figure fleeing the scene of the crime.
The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August last year when the prosecution finished presenting its case.
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.