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

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left hugs her mother Benah right after a press conference at foreign minister office in Jakarta on March 11

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left hugs her mother Benah right after a press conference at foreign minister office in Jakarta on March 11

Just four days ago, the future for Indonesia's Siti Aisyah looked bleak - she was two years into her detention in Malaysia and faced a possible death sentence if convicted of killing the half brother of North Korea's leader.

Minh said Vietnam's leaders and the public are closely following the case and asked Malaysia to "ensure a fair trial for Huong and set her free".

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

Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong, 30, is on trial for murder in Malaysia for the brazen Cold War-style killing of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

Huong is set to appear in court tomorrow, after her lawyers asked the Malaysian Attorney-General to withdraw her murder charge.

She was given a trial and she was discharged.

Both women, who were accused along with four missing North Koreans, have said they thought they were playing a prank for a TV show.

The pair have always maintained their innocence and said that they acted under the belief that they were participating in a joke for a television show when they sprayed the victim's face with a substance that they believed was harmless.

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.

Vietnam provided legal counsel to Huong, but has refrained from publicly lobbying for her release until today. I don't know the details.

The court rejected her lawyer's request for a full acquittal, as it said the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerged.

Kim Jong Nam had fled North Korea shortly after his brother, Kim Jong Un, took over after their father's death.

Prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad said the decision to withdraw the charge against her was made based on "several representations", without elaborating. He had been living overseas for years but could have been seen as a threat to Kim Jong Un's rule.

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 a year ago after the stunning election defeat of Najib Razak. Pyongyang denies the accusation.

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