Vietnamese woman in North Korea murder case loses bid for release

Doan Thi Huong broke down in court after she lost a bid to be released from a charge of murdering Kim Jong Nam in 2017

Doan Thi Huong broke down in court after she lost a bid to be released from a charge of murdering Kim Jong Nam in 2017

The two women were accused of poisoning Kim Jong-nam by rubbing the deadly VX agent on his face at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

The other, Indonesian national Siti Aisyah, was freed on Monday in a surprise ruling.

Prosecutors did not reveal why they rejected Huong's appeal but let Aisyah go free.

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 woman Doan Thi Huong (3rd L) is escorted to the court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, March 14, 2019.

"She's a little bit nervous and weak", Quỳnh said.

He said government lawyers were being unfair to Huong, because her case was similar to Aisyah's situation. "The decision [is] perverse and does not speak well of our criminal justice system", he said.

'Both the accused have said they were made scapegoats by North Korea, both of them said they were doing video pranks - very obviously there is discrimination, ' said Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.

"Both presented same defense before this court".

"It is our complaint that the public prosecutor has not acted fairly or justly", he said. "I think she must given the opportunity to be treated by a doctor".

Court will resume on April 1.

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Defence lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination. The worldwide police organization Interpol has issued red notices asking governments around the world to send them back to face trial.

Who was Kim Jong-nam?

Four men from North Korea who were suspected of being behind the attack fled Malaysia the day Kim was killed, leaving Huong and Siti Aisyah the only two people in custody in relation to the crime. There was security camera footage of Huong. The North Koreans then promptly left the country.

Prosecutors had sprung a surprise on Monday by asking the court to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah and free her.

Indonesian authorities said earlier this week that Malaysia had agreed to release their citizen due in part to intense lobbying by Jakarta.

"She is not fit, physically and mentally, and I request for today's hearing to be postponed".

But her life took a turn when she moved to Malaysia, where like so many migrant workers she sought a brighter future than the one on offer in her poor rice farming village.

"My message to the other woman workers, please don't easily trust the others. If you want to do something, you have to understand what is that exactly", she said.

Throughout the proceeding yesterday, Huong appeared distraught and was sobbing.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh called his Malaysian counterpart on Tuesday urging Huong to be released as well, according to Vietnamese media.

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.

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