Murder Charge Dropped for Indonesian in Kim Jong Nam Killing

Malaysia Suspect released in Kim Jong Nam murder case

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong-nam, arrives at the Shah Alam High Court March 11, 2019.

A Malaysian court on Monday freed the Indonesian woman accused in the assassination of a Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) man after prosecutors withdrew murder charge against her.

They allegedly got the two women to smear Kim Jong-nam with VX at a terminal of the Kuala Lumpur airport, leading to his death within minutes.

Huong's lawyer said she was "traumatized" that only Aisyah had been released, and the court agreed to adjourn the Vietnamese suspect's testimony to allow her legal team to apply for her murder charge to be dropped.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair to her as the judge past year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against them.

Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said that the discharge not amounting to acquittal means Aisyah can be recharged, but that there are no such plans for now.

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Gooi said there was no "direct evidence" of the Indonesian woman's involvement in the killing.

The Malaysian attorney general personally approved the decision to release Siti, the Guardian reported. "We will try to fly Siti back to Indonesia today or as soon as possible", he said.

Huong is scheduled to testify later Monday. They fled the country immediately after the murder and are now formally accused in the case.

The pair has been on trial since October 2017 but proceedings have been hit by repeated delays, and Aisyah's defense - which was originally due to start a year ago - was on hold due to a row over witness statements before the surprise decision to free her on Monday. Her lawyers said they were seeking an adjournment.

"We are grateful the public prosecutor has come to this conclusion, because we truly believe she is merely a scapegoat and she is innocent", he said.

"There has been a long process to free her... since she was detained", Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters in Jakarta. "She was filming a prank and had no intention to kill or injure anyone", he told the Associated Press.

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In the northern Vietnamese province of Nam Dinh, her father Doan Van Thanh expressed shock his daughter was still behind bars and called for her release.

Prosecutors had presented their case in the first stage of the trial. The reason for the withdrawal of the murder charge was not given.

Ms Aisyah could have faced the death penalty if convicted.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of late dictator Kim Jong-il, had challenged his half-brother's succession to the top post. He had been living overseas for years but could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rule.

He had spoken out in the past against his family's dynastic control of North Korea and in a 2012 book was quoted as saying he believed his half-brother lacked leadership qualities. The government has vowed to abolish capital punishment for all crimes, although parliament still needs to vote on changing the law.

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