Malaysian lawyer of Vietnamese suspect in Kim murder believes she’s ‘innocent’

By Quoc Thang   March 6, 2017 | 10:53 am GMT+7
Malaysian lawyer of Vietnamese suspect in Kim murder believes she’s ‘innocent’
Selvam Shanmugam, lawyer of Doan Thi Huong in Kim Jong Nam's murder, in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang

The Malaysian lawyer visited her family in a northern village before talking with local media in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday.

The lawyer of the Vietnamese woman charged with the high-profile murder of Kim Jong Nam at a Malaysian airport last month said he believes she’s not guilty.

Selvam Shanmugam, the Malaysian lawyer defending Doan Thi Huong, said during a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday that he strongly believes she is innocent.

Huong, 28, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, were charged last week with the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after his assassination at a Malaysian airport.

Police accuse the pair of having wiped VX nerve agent, a weapon of mass destruction and banned around the world, on Kim’s face at a Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13.

The women claim they thought they were merely taking part in a prank video.

Shanmugam told VnExpress that he plans to question Malaysian prosecutors over the VX agent conclusion, because if Huong had used the substance, it would have effected her and other people in the airport.

He will also ask North Korea’s Consulate General to provide Kim’s medical records after North Korea rejected the finding that VX had killed him, stating he had probably died of a heart attack, the lawyer said before flying back to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

He said that if Huong was guilty, she would have tried to flee instead of going back into the airport in the same distinctive “LOL” T-shirt that she was caught on CCTV wearing during the attack.

"I'm strongly convinced that she isn't" the culprit, he said.

Shanmugam said he had volunteered to defend Huong as she had no one else to help her.

During his trip, he has visited her family in Nam Dinh Province, around 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Hanoi, and talked with her 64-year-old father Doan Van Thanh, who also believes that his daughter is innocent.

He also met with lawyer Ha Hai from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association to seek advice on the case. He said he would ask for Hai to work with him on the upcoming trial, at least to make sure that Huong’s statement is not misinterpreted.

Hai said that if allowed, he will meet with Huong and offer her support in the case.

Huong will stand trial on April 13.

The Vietnam Bar Association last week also offered to provide legal assistance to Huong through diplomatic channels as Malaysian laws do not allow foreign lawyers to practice in their country.

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Vietnamese consular officials advise family of Kim murder suspect