Kim Jong-nam murder: Malaysia rejects suspect's release plea

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The case against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother will go forward, prosecutors in Malaysia said Thursday.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who was a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam, leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 14, 2019.

The two women were the only people in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the morning of February 13, 2017, when Kim Jong Nam was poisoned with VX nerve agent.

She told reporters: "Only God knows that we did not commit the murder".

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. They did not offer any explanation but it followed intense lobbying from the Indonesian government.

The Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Le Quy Quynh, told AFP at the court: "I'm very disappointed that the court did not free Doan". Vietnam's justice minister had also written to Malaysia's attorney-general asking for her to be freed.

Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats and said the real killers were four North Koreans.

Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

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Given her mental and physical condition, the judge accepted her lawyer's assertion that Huong was in no condition to take the stand and give evidence in her own defence, agreeing to postpone the case until April 1.

Proceedings were scheduled to resume on Monday with Ms Huong testifying - but the unexpected release of her co-accused led to the trial being adjourned so the Vietnamese suspect could also seek her freedom.

Huong's lawyers said they were deeply disappointed with the decision and the attorney general had a "moral obligation" to explain the reasoning given the worldwide nature of the case.

The women have always denied murder.

Ramkarpal said if the charge against Siti Aisyah had been dropped because AG Tommy Thomas was of the view that North Korea had a hand in Jong Nam's murder, then Doan, too should be freed.

In a statement, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said subjecting Doan to further prosecution, but not her co-accused, "particularly when a prima facie case has been found against both of them is, with respect, unprecedented and regrettable". Aisyah and Huong have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show. Speaking to Vietnam embassy officials she shook violently, and pleaded with them.

He was once seen as a future leader of the isolated country, but when his father Kim Jong-il died, he was bypassed in favour of the younger Kim. The North denies the claim.

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