Vietnamese Foreign minister Pham Binh Minh spoke Tuesday night with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah to begin diplomatic measures that could lead to the release of Doan Thi Huong, Efe news reported.
Huong, whose murder trial is expected to continue Thursday, and her co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, were accused of killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing VX nerve agent on his face while at a Malaysian airport in 2017. They say the real murderers are four North Koreans - formally accused of the crime alongside the women - who fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.
The Straits Times reported that Malaysia chose to drop the murder charge against Ms Siti after taking into account the good relations between Malaysia and Indonesia, it was revealed yesterday.
Siti Aisyah, who had worked as a masseuse at a hotel 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. During the trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight. They have gone through the proceedings and the charge was being withdrawn, so this is being done according to the law.
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Her lawyers say she is a scapegoat and the masterminds were four North Koreans who fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination . Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said he would closely work with the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia to get the charges dropped.
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"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said. Although the two women were being tried together, the cases against them were separate, and the court had asked the Indonesian woman to present her defence first.
"I told Siti to stay put for the meantime until the situation cools down, which would let her plan a better life ahead", said President Jokowi after welcoming Siti Aisyah at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta today, March 12. Authorities believe that Kim Jong Un had his half-brother assassinated as part of an effort to consolidate his power after he became the ruler of North Korea.
"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". The foreign ministry said in a statement that she was "deceived and did not realise at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence".
No reason for Ms Aisyah's release was given but the announcement from Tommy Thomas, the Malaysian attorney general, revealed that the judgment was made "taking into account the good relations" between the countries.