Vietnam urges Malaysia to release female suspect in DPRK man's murder case

Nellie Chapman
March 15, 2019

Then the charges were unexpectedly dropped.

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

"He asked Malaysia to ensure a fair trial and to set free Doan Thi Huong", Voice of Vietnam radio reported today after Minh's call to Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

Huong was accused alongside Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who was suddenly freed yesterday by a Malaysian court where the women were being tried.

Aisyah said she hopes Huong is also freed.

"Malaysia will create a thorny bilateral problem with Vietnam if there is no similar treatment", said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert with John Cabot University in Rome.

South Korea accuses the North of plotting the murder of Jong Nam, an estranged relative of Kim Jong Un who was once seen as heir apparent to the North Korean leadership.

Aisyah and Huong have maintained since their arrests that they thought they were participating in a prank show and were going to apply lotion to a man's face. They were the only people in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

Laoly said Siti Aisyah's release, after over two years in prison, was the result of high-level diplomacy by his government, including meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the attorney-general.

"One relationship that suffered under Najib was the Malaysia-Indonesia one".

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Prosecutors did not give any reason for the remarkable retreat in their case against Aisyah, whose home government had lobbied hard for her release.

"The AG can exercise this power even during trial".

"Why is the AG succumbing to foreign interference into our prosecution?"

"I believe that my daughter will be released too because she is innocent".

Defence lawyers have said the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents.

The women's lawyers have presented them as scapegoats.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicized.

Authorities believe that North Korean agents recruited Huong, who hails from Vietnam, while she worked at a bar in Hanoi.

Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said after Monday's court session that Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair if she was still going to be held. Siti said she was happy to meet Jokowi.

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