Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

By Viet Anh, Pham Du   March 14, 2019 | 02:58 pm GMT+7
Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused
Vietnamese national, Doan Thi Huong (L) leaves Shah Alam High Court escorted by Malaysian police, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 14, 2019. Photo by AFP/Mohd Rasfan

Malaysia has decided to proceed with the trial of a Vietnamese woman accused of murdering Kim Jong-nam.

The decision has caused disappointment after the other person accused in the case, an Indonesian woman, was acquitted and set free Monday.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia said it regretted the Malaysian court’s refusal to drop murder charges against Doan Thi Huong and set her free.

"Vietnam will continue to exert increasing pressure on Malaysia to ensure a fair trial and set her free," Vietnamese Ambassador Le Quy Quynh told VnExpress.

Huong, 30, and her co-accused Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, 26, had been on trial for a year and a half on charges of killing Kim Jong-nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, by smearing his face with VX poison, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Both women have said that they thought they were playing a prank, and had no idea their actions would have deadly consequences.

Huong burst into tears as a prosecutor announced that the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her; and that her trial would be adjourned until April 1.

The Vietnamese defendant, who had to be helped out of court by two police officers following the announcement, tearfully told reporters: "I am depressed. I am innocent... I want my family to pray for me," AFP reported.

Huong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said he would closely work with the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia to get the charges dropped.

Back in her hometown in Nam Dinh Province, two hours south of Hanoi, her family was unhappy with the court decision.

Huong's father, Doan Van Thanh, said: "We are very shocked, very sad and we don't understand why it turned out this way."

Thanh said after the Indonesian suspect was released, he had expected that "my daughter would be set free as well."

Doan Van Thanh, father of Doan Thi Huong, a suspect in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, speaks about her Thursday trial at his home in Nam Dinh Province. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du

Doan Van Thanh, father of Doan Thi Huong, a suspect in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, speaks about her Thursday trial at his home in Nam Dinh Province. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du

Thanh said he felt painful watching the trial on the internet, seeing his daughter crying and not being able to be there for her. "She's too skinny now." He was in Malaysia for the first trial in early February but could not afford other trips.

"Now we can only pray for the best at the next trial on April 1," said Thanh, a Christian.

Huong's step-mother Nguyen Thi Vy told Reuters she had expected Huong to be able to come home after the trial today. "It's so unfair. The two of them were in this and now one got out, one cannot. Isn't that injustice?"

On Monday, the murder charge was withdrawn against the Indonesian woman and she was set free, prompting the Vietnamese government to call for Malaysia to do the same with Huong, on the basis of the law and the good friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries.

On Tuesday, Vietnamese Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh spoke with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah to seek Huong’s release. Vietnam’s justice minister Le Thanh Long also called on Malaysia to free the Vietnamese suspect on the same day.

 
 
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