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Now, Vietnam wants Malaysia to free Kim Jong Nam murder suspect

14 March 2019

"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 Indonesian government had persistently lobbied for dropping the charges against her and releasing her, with Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly writing to Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas to state that Aisyah had been deceived.

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), an opposition party, said withdrawing the murder charge against Aisyah was "a fiasco".

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (C) is escorted by Malaysian police after a hearing at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 11, 2019 during trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Huong's co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, was freed on Monday after a Malaysian court dropped the charge against her. "I did not expect that today I would be released", Siti Aisyah said, adding that she was healthy and had been treated well in prison.

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Watch CCTV camera footage of the attack.

Siti Aisyah and Huong have maintained that they believed they had been hired to take part in a reality TV prank show. They say the prosecution has failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

They stood accused of poisoning Mr Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon - in February 2017, Reuters reported.

Her sudden release prompted questions about interference in Malaysia's justice system, particularly after the Indonesian government revealed that it had lobbied Kuala Lumpur on the case, including pressure from President Joko Widodo.

South Korea accuses the North of plotting the murder of Kim, an estranged relative of Kim Jong-un who was once seen as heir apparent to the North Korean leadership. Pyongyang denies the accusation.

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Huong's trial is to resume Thursday, and prosecutors are expected to reply to a request by Huong's lawyers for the government to withdraw the murder charge against her as well.

"After studying the case thoroughly, we sent letters to the Attorney-General of Malaysia and met with him and Prime Minister Mahathir last August", Laoly told reporters with Siti Aisyah shortly after landing in Jakarta.

She had been on trial alongside a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, who was left distraught as she was not freed at the same time. It also seized a luxury yacht at the centre of a Malaysian corruption scandal off Bali island in cooperation with the US FBI and returned it to Malaysia previous year.

"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said.

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Now, Vietnam wants Malaysia to free Kim Jong Nam murder suspect