Vietnamese woman gets jail time over airport death of DPRK man

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel towards the low-cost carrier Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang during a visit to the scene of the murder as part of the Shah Alam High Court trial process on Octo

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel towards the low-cost carrier Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang during a visit to the scene of the murder as part of the Shah Alam High Court trial process on Octo

Malaysian authorities disagreed. During the police investigation and through most of the trial, police and prosecutors were adamant that both women knew what they were doing.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, center, is escorted by police as she leaves Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, on April 1, 2019.

Doan Thi Huong had faced a murder charge, which carried the death penalty if she was convicted, in the slaying of Kim Jong Nam, who died after being accosted by two women in a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal.

Doan's co-accused Siti Aisyah was released from custody and flew home to Indonesia in March after the Malaysian court dropped the case against her in a shock decision that delighted her friends and family.

Kim Jong-nam 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. All four fled Malaysia for an unknown destination soon after the assassination, and global police organization Interpol has issued red notices asking governments around the world to send them back to face trial.

Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing harm using risky means. The judge told her he wished her "all the best".

She told reporters before leaving the courtroom she was happy and hoped to be a singer and actress when she returned to Vietnam.

It is "very likely she could walk out free today", her lawyer Salim Bashir told reporters at the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur.

She is the lone suspect in custody in Kim Jong Nam's death from VX nerve agent in 2017. Now, the second of the two women who was allegedly involved in the shocking murder, could also be be set free within a month after the first accused was released.

"We wanted her to be freed immediately", her stepmother Nguyen Thi Vy said in her rice farming village in northern Vietnam on Monday. She is expected to be released in May. It's not fair to her.

Huong sought to be acquitted after Aisyah was freed, but prosecutors rejected her request. She pleaded guilty to voluntarily causing injury with a risky weapon.

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After a brief break, the judge is expected to announce the sentence.

Doan has consistently maintained her innocence.

The reduced charge is punishable by a maximum of ten years' imprisonment, but carries no mandatory minimum term.

The pair, who claimed they were tricked into carrying out the killing, were put on trial facing a murder charge.

Hisyam had urged the judge to take into account Huong's honesty, her acceptance of responsibility and the acquittal of her co-defendant.

In asking for a lenient sentence, he also told the court that her move saved judicial time.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court that her plea showed Huong "has taken responsibility" for her actions.

Malaysia allowed the two women's suspected North Korean handlers to leave in the days after the murder, amid a furious diplomatic row as South Korea accused the North of plotting the Cold War-style hit.

Huong smiled broadly, following her court appearance attended by her father.

Earlier, the prosecution told the Shah Alam court that the Attorney General decided on an alternative charge of "voluntarily causing hurt by risky weapons or means", two weeks after rejecting Huong's lawyers calls for the murder charge to be withdrawn. The hearing was halted briefly for Huong to decide whether to accept the offer.

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