Malaysia releases Indonesian suspected of killing Kim Jong Nam, Latest World News - The New Paper

Malaysia releases Indonesian suspected of killing Kim Jong Nam

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Charges dropped against Indonesian accused of killing N. Korean leader's half-brother in 2017

KUALA LUMPUR An Indonesian accused in the 2017 killing of the North Korean leader's half-brother was freed yesterday, as a Malaysian court dropped the murder charge against her.

As the court gave its decision, Ms Siti Aisyah, 26, turned to her Vietnamese co-defendant Doan Thi Huong, 30, in the dock, and the two women, who had been facing the death penalty together, embraced tearfully.

They stood accused of poisoning Mr Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon - in February 2017, Reuters reported.

A defence lawyer also asked for an adjournment in the case against Huong to submit a request that charges be dropped against her too. Defence lawyers have said the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents.

Ms Siti, who had worked as a masseuse in the Malaysian capital, and Huong, who described herself as an actress, had maintained that they believed they had been hired to participate in a reality TV prank show.

The Straits Times reported that Malaysia decided to drop the murder charge against Ms Siti after taking into account the good relations between Malaysia and Indonesia, it was revealed yesterday.

Malaysia's Attorney-General Chambers issued the order last Friday not to prosecute Ms Siti, according to a letter revealed by the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the "prosecution will request the court to order a 'discharge not amounting to acquittal'".

Ms Siti spoke briefly with journalists.

"I feel so happy. I did not expect that today I would be released," she said.

When asked what was the first thing she wanted to do, she said: "I want to see my family."

The court rejected her lawyer's request for a full acquittal, as it said the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerged.

The court will resume proceedings on Huong's case on Thursday, pending a reply from Mr Thomas to a request that charges against her be withdrawn.

"Where is the principle of equality? Both of them were charged on the same evidence, the defence was called on fairly the same grounds," said Mr Salim Bashir, one of her lawyers.

"Until today, we do not know what were the exceptional circumstances that were needed for the Attorney-General to review the charge against Siti Aisyah."