Malaysia court frees woman in North Korea murder case

North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur vandalised four men involved | #AsiaNewsNetwork
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North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur vandalised four men involved | #AsiaNewsNetwork Latest Issues

The young woman's case has been raised at every bilateral meeting between Indonesia and Malaysia, Indonesian officials say, including when Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last July.

The two women had been accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

"I feel very happy", Aisyah said at a news conference at the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia.

After the court decision to release her, 26-year-old Siti Aisyah hugged her co-accused Doan Thi Huong, a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman, and cried.

Once the court released her, Siti Aisyah, wearing a black traditional Malay dress and headscarf, was rushed to the Indonesian embassy, where she spoke briefly with journalists.

Ms Siti, accompanied by Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, arrived at Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport at around 5.30pm. Their lawyers argued that they were both used as scapegoats. They were the only suspects in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country on the morning Kim was killed. It was not yet clear in Monday's court proceedings if she would be charged with a lower count.

Prosecutors withdrew the charge against Siti Aisyah without giving a reason, and she was discharged without an acquittal. This means Aisyah has not been formally cleared of the charge and could, in theory, be re-arrested.

A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam.

"I did not know this will happen".

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"The Malaysian government treated me well, there was no bad treatment at all", she said. He said Huong was distressed and felt the ruling was unfair to her since the judge previously had found a murder case against them both should go forward.

During the hearings in June 2018, Aisyah's lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, in his final submission, told the court that "the investigation was not only shoddy but was lopsided". In her hometown of Sindangsari on Java island, there was shock and delight as word spread of her release.

"She is confident and ready to give her version of the story".

Rusdi Kirana, Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia, said the decision to drop the case against Aisyah followed months of lobbying by Jakarta.

The murder had triggered a diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea. The government vowed a year ago to abolish capital punishment but has yet to amend the law.

Huong grew up in Nghia Binh, Vietnam, not far from Hanoi, and is thought to have been recruited by North Korean agents while working at a bar in the Vietnamese capital.

Her case has now been adjourned at the request of her lawyers.

In the first stage of the trial that ran until August a year ago, prosecutors presented their case.

He was the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who reportedly had a falling out with the regime and lived in exile.

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