Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

The decision means that Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam will remain as the only suspect in the case still behind bars.

Malaysia's attorney general ordered the murder case to proceed against a Vietnamese woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half-brother, prosecutors said in court Thursday.

Doan and Siti were jointly accused of assassinating Jong Nam by smearing VX nerve gas on his face at klia2 in February 2017.

"I am not angry at Siti", Doan told reporters in court through tears, adding that she was "traumatised". "I am innocent. I want my family to pray for me".

In Vietnam, Huong's stepmother, Nguyen Thi Vy, said the decision saddened her.

Vietnam had been pushing for her release, and the decision comes days after her Indonesian co-defendant, Siti Aisyah, was unexpectedly freed.

CCTV footage showed one of them placing her hands over his face, then both women leaving the scene.

The women have always denied murder.

Interpol had issued a red notice for four North Koreans identified as suspects by Malaysian police who had left the country hours after the murder.

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"It's our complaint that the public prosecution has not acted fairly and justly to Doan Thi Huong", her lawyer Hisyam Teh, who asked for an adjournment on the grounds that his client was unwell.

Indonesia had mounted a sustained diplomatic offensive to get Ms Aisyah freed, while Vietnam had only stepped up pressure since the Indonesian woman's release this week.

Since her shock release, the Vietnamese government has sought Huong's release.

The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August a year ago when the prosecution finished presenting its case. The government vowed a year ago to scrap capital punishment but has indicated recently it may water down the plan and only do away with the mandatory death penalty.

Huong's lawyers said CCTV video showing Huong walking up behind Kim and putting her hands over his face should have no bearing on the attorney general's decision, because both women were mounting the same defence and it had already been chose to free Siti Aisyah.

Huong, who was expected to testify in her own defence this week, barely reacted to Siti's release. The government gave us the best support but the other side could not solve it, what can we do'.

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.

'This is the very reason why the death penalty should be abolished - the imposition of the death penalty may not be applied equally, ' he told AFP.

The legal teams of both women have argued that they were pawns in the audacious assassination of Kim Jong-nam, 45, that was orchestrated behind-the-scenes by North Korean agents. Pyongyang denies the claim.

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