Woman charged with Kim Jong Nam’s killing freed

The prosecution’s decision to withdraw the charge against Siti Aisyah came as a surprise to many, including the defendant herself.

A tearful Aisyah told reporters she was “shocked” to be free, after leaving court flanked by her lawyer. She is expected to depart for her home country later in the day, her lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said.

Gooi said it was unclear why prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the charge, as they did not give a reason in court.

Aisyah and Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong were both charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam in February 2017. Authorities say the two women exposed Kim to the nerve agent VX as he entered an airport in Kuala Lumpur, killing him in minutes.

Security footage of the incident leaked to the public shows a woman approaching him from behind, rubbing something on his face and then running away.

Lawyers for the two women have claimed the pair were duped by a team of North Korean agents, who tricked them into thinking they were taking part in a reality TV show. Each pleaded not guilty.

Four North Koreans have also been charged with Kim’s killing. Their whereabouts are unknown, and Interpol has put out red notices for each of them, asking governments around the world to return them to Malaysia to face trial.

North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in the killing, though United States, South Korean and Malaysian authorities have said North Korea was in fact responsible for Kim’s death.

Kim’s apparent assassination kicked off a heated three-week diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea. The dispute ended after nine Malaysians effectively bared from leaving Pyongyang were allowed to return home and three North Koreans were permitted to leave Malaysia.

‘Happy and so relieved’

Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia, who was in court with Aisyah, thanked the judge and the Malaysian government, but declined to answer questions about what is next for her.

Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry transported Aisyah’s parents to the capital of Jakarta, where they are expected to meet their daughter when she arrives, her mother Benah told CNN.

Kim Jong Nam: The plot to murder North Korea's exiled son

Benah said she was “happy and so relieved” that her daughter has been freed.

“Since the very beginning we believe that she is not guilty. Siti is innocent. That’s why we keep praying for her,” she said

Benah said she is unaware of what will happen next, but plans to “make sure that Siti will only work at home.”

Huong to testify

The case against Huong will take a major step forward Monday, when she is expected to testify. It will be the first time she has publicly discussed the incident since her arrest in 2017.

It’s unclear if Huong’s detention has caused any friction between North Korea and Vietnam, one of the relatively few countries to maintain diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (center) is escorted by Malaysian police at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, in December 2018.

Huong’s case did not appear to be publicly discussed during Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to Hanoi, when he met US President Donald Trump and Vietnam’s leaders.

In an interview last month, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc appeared to play down tensions between his country and Pyongyang over the incident.

“This is an issue of the law. We also care about protecting the rights of our citizens, but both countries will discuss this specifically at a later time, not during this period,” he said.

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger reported and wrote from Hong Kong and Hadi Azmi reported from Shah Alam. CNN’s Yoonjung Seo, Ivan Watson and journalist Jamaluddin Masrur contributed to this report.

The put upWoman charged with Kim Jong Nam’s killing freedappeared first on CNN

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