Vietnam urges Malaysia to free 2nd woman in North Korean killing

Vietnam urges Malaysia to free 2nd woman in North Korean killing

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong-nam, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur January 22, 2018.

The other suspect in the murder case, Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (30), remained in prison and she is expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the plea in a phone call Tuesday with his counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah.

Prosecutors gave no reason for dropping the charge against Siti Aisyah, but Indonesian officials had been lobbying hard for her release - the Indonesian Foreign Ministry saying she'd been deceived and manipulated by North Korean intelligence.

Prosecutors may then inform the court whether the application is successful.

The call from Vietnam's foreign minister was an unprecedented public request from Hanoi, which generally does not get involved in criminal cases involving its citizens overseas.

Indonesia's government has said its continual high-level lobbying resulted in Aisyah's release.

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Indonesian Siti Aisyah, left, smiles next to her lawyer Gooi Soon Seng after a press conference at Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 11, 2019.

Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said Tuesday the decision was in line with "the rule of law".

But the two women have repeatedly said they believed they were taking part in a prank and had been tricked by North Korean secret agents. The two women were accused along with four missing North Koreans of killing Kim Jong Nam by VX nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in 2017. Pyongyang has denied the accusation. Siti said she was happy to meet Jokowi.

Huong's lawyers had written twice to former AG Mohamed Apandi Ali to stop the prosecution but were unsuccessful.

"We have lined up four to five defence witnesses should there be no favourable reply from the AG", he said.

Salim said Huong should also be accorded the same treatment although both were charged separately, but a joint trial was held.

Analysts said Aisyah's release was in part due to politics and the improved relations between Indonesia and Malaysia that have come since Mahathir Mohamad returned to the Malaysian premiership previous year after the stunning election defeat of Najib Razak.

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