Kim Jong-Nam murder suspect loses bid for release

15 March, 2019, 11:57 | Author: Carlos George
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The ruling leaves Ms Doan, who arrived with armed guards at the Shah Alam court shortly before 9am and wearing a bulletproof vest, as the sole suspect in the case still behind bars.

The Vietnamese woman accused of the murder of Kim Chol or Kim Jong-nam, elder brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, underwent a physical and mental examination today at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Responding to news about the AG's rejection of the application from Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong's lawyers for a withdrawal, the DAP national legal bureau chairman said it raised questions about the AG's absolute power to decide prosecutions in the country.

Huong's lawyers said CCTV video showing Huong walking up behind Kim and putting her hands over his face should have no bearing on the attorney general's decision, because both women were mounting the same defence and it had already been chose to free Siti Aisyah.

Vietnamese Ambassaador Le Quy Quynh said he was "very disappointed" with the attorney general's decision. He said Vietnam's justice minister had written to the Malaysian attorney-general seeking Huong's release and that Vietnam would keep lobbying Malaysia to free her.

Reluctantly agreeing to postpone the trial, the judge said: "I wish I could just carry on but the accused is clearly not mentally or physically fit to testify".

Hanoi had requested the release of Doan Thi Huong, 30, one of two women who claim they were duped into smearing VX poison on to Kim Jong-nam's face at Kuala Lumpur worldwide airport in February 2017, believing they were taking part in a prank for a television show.

Lawyers for the women have argued all along that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

However, Doan's counsel Hisham confirmed that Malaysian prosecutors rejected a request to drop the charges against Doan, meaning she alone will face trial for the murder. "Very obviously, there is discrimination", he said, according to the Associated Press.

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A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam. The defense part of the trial was to have started Monday. Under Malaysian law, intent to kill is critical to a murder charge.

Her family says she is a good girl who fell into the murder plot unwittingly.

Huong was sobbing as she spoke to Vietnamese Embassy officials after Thursday's court hearing ended.

Huong's stepmother, Nguyen Thi Vy, was in tears as she slammed the court's decision. "I had hoped my daughter would be freed like the Indonesian woman", said her father, Doan Van Thanh.

"It's so unfair. They were together, did the same thing", she said.

During the prosecution part of the trial, expert witnesses said that poisoning caused Kim's death.

During the trial, the court was shown airport CCTV footage showing Huong approaching Kim, placing her hands on his face and then running away.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia.

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit, which Pyongyang denies.

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