HANOI, Vietnam – Hanoi said Thursday, March 14, it “regrets” the decision by Malaysian prosecutors not to release a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea’s leader and called for a fair trial.
Doan Thi Huong’s request was rejected in a Malaysian court after her Indonesian co-accused Siti Aisyah was freed earlier this week.
The pair were on trial for the 2017 killing of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam with a toxic nerve agent in a busy Kuala Lumpur airport.
Both have insisted they were tricked into the brazen attack and thought it was part of a TV show.
Following months of public silence, Vietnam lobbied this week for Huong’s release after Aisyah was unexpectedly freed on Monday, March 11.
“We regret the fact that the Malaysian court did not set free Doan Thi Huong immediately,” Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters Thursday.
“We want Doan Thi Huong to be tried fairly and objectively and for her to be freed,” she added.
Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister Nguyen Quoc Dung met with Malaysia’s ambassador in Hanoi Thursday after the ruling to discuss the case, Hang said, without providing details.
Vietnam’s justice minister and foreign minister both asked Kuala Lumpur to set Huong free this week.
The trial was adjourned until April 1 after judge Azmi Ariffin said Huong was not “physically and mentally” well enough to continue with Thursday’s proceedings.
Huong broke down in tears after the decision was announced and told reporters “I am depressed. I am innocent… I want my family to pray for me.”
Her lawyer said they would push ahead with his bid to get the murder charge against her dropped when the trial resumes, and that she needed time to recover.
“She is not in the position to testify due to health conditions,” attorney Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said.
Indonesia lobbied behind the scenes for Aisyah’s release and Malaysia’s attorney-general Tommy Thomas agreed to free her citing “the good relations between our respective countries.”
Malaysia’s prime minister later said the decision was made in line with the rule of law and denied accusations of meddling.
Huong could face death by hanging if found guilty of murder. – Rappler.com
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