Vietnamese woman in Kim Jong-nam assassination faces Malaysia ban

By Viet Anh   May 7, 2019 | 05:06 pm PT
Vietnamese woman in Kim Jong-nam assassination faces Malaysia ban
Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong (R) arrives at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, May 3, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
The Vietnamese woman who accepted a plea bargain to escape a murder charge may be banned from reentering Malaysia.

"Doan Thi Huong could be banned from coming back to Malaysia because she has been convicted," Salim Bashir, one of Huong’s lawyers, told VnExpress.

Huong was found guilty in the 2017 assassination of a North Korean man who is believed to be the North Korean leader's half-brother Kim Jong-nam.

Bashir said that under the Malaysian Immigration Act, a person who was convicted and deported is not allowed to return to Malaysia indefinitely, except with permission from Malaysia’s Minister of Justice.

After a trial that lasted more than two years, Huong was freed from prison last Friday and returned home the same night.

Huong, 31, and her co-accused, Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, 26, were accused of killing Kim by smearing his face with VX poison, a banned chemical weapon, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Both women consistently denied the murder charge, saying they had been tricked by some North Koreans into carrying out the brazen killing that shocked the world.

At the trial court on April 1, Huong, a hair salon worker in Vietnam, pleaded guilty under a plea bargain to the new charge of "purposely causing injury" to Kim by employing "dangerous means." She was sentenced to three years and four months in prison effective from the date of her arrest in February 2017, and also got time taken off for good behavior. The original murder charge levied against her carries a mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.

Vietnam and Malaysia have not signed a judicial agreement, but the ASEAN community goes by a mutual understanding of recognizing each other's practices and respecting the judicial activities of member countries.

The decision to discharge Huong from prison came after authorities dropped murder charges against her.

With Huong’s escape, no one faces murder charges for the February 2017 killing of Kim.

Lawyers for both women presented them as scapegoats and argued that the real masterminds were four North Koreans accused alongside them, who fled Malaysia shortly after the murder.

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