Free woman accused of murdering North Korean: Vietnam Justice Minister

By Ha Nguyen   March 13, 2019 | 02:04 am PT
Free woman accused of murdering North Korean: Vietnam Justice Minister
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is escorted as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 16, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Lai Seng Sin
Vietnam’s justice minister has called for freeing the Vietnamse suspect accused of killing Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia.

Justice Minister Le Thanh Long sent a letter Tuesday afternoon to his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas, discussing Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong’s indictment in the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother with a VX poison in Malaysia in 2017.

Long said that Huong and Indonesian co-accused Siti Aisyah had been "used and dragged into the case without any knowledge of the deadly consequence their behaviors might have."

The women were deceived into what they thought was a prank, with no idea of their action’s consequences, he said.

He requested the Malaysian attorney general to reconsider the case and release Huong based on the basis of the law and the good friendship and strategic partnership between Vietnam and Malaysia.

Also Tuesday, Vietnamese Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh, who is also the foreign minister, spoke with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on the phone on this issue.

Minh said Vietnamese leaders and the public are closely following the case and asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial for Huong and set her free."

Minh and Long’s request followed a Malaysian court dropping murder charges against Indonesian co-accused Siti Aisyah, releasing her Monday.

The Indonesian government had persistently lobbied for dropping the charges against her and releasing her, with Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly writing to Malaysian Attorney General Thomas to state that Aisyah had been deceived.

Huong’s lawyers have now demanded that the Malaysian attorney general should drop the charges against her too and set her free.

Huong, 30, and Aisyah, 26, were accused of using nerve agent VX to assassinate a man who the U.S. and South Korea have claimed was Kim Jong-nam, at Kuala Lumpur's International Airport on February 13, 2017.

The women have repeatedly said they believed they were taking part in a prank and had been tricked by people believed to be North Korean secret agents.

Huong’s father, Doan Van Thanh, said Siti Aisyah’s release was good news for his family.

"I believe that my daughter will be released too because she is innocent. We haven’t received any information from Malaysia recently, and we are eager to hear from them now," he told Reuters.

The court will resume proceedings Thursday.

Watch CCTV camera footage of the attack here.

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