March 12, 2019 / 4:17 PM / 3 months ago

Vietnam asks Malaysia to free woman accused of Kim Jong Nam's poisoning

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Vietnam called on Malaysia on Tuesday to free a Vietnamese woman accused in the 2017 murder of the North Korean leader’s half brother, a day after a Malaysian court dropped a similar charge against an Indonesian woman.

Siti Aisyah, who was previously a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam, poses with her parents after being released of her charges by Malaysian court, during a ceremony at Indonesian Foreign Ministry in Jakarta, March 11, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Reno Esnir/via REUTERS

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Binh, in a telephone call to his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah, asked Malaysia to “ensure a fair trial and free Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong,” the government said in a statement.

Huong’s co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, was freed on Monday after a Malaysian court dropped the charge against her.

She and Huong have been accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with liquid VX at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Conviction could carry the death penalty.

Minh said in the phone conversation that senior leaders and the people of Vietnam have paid close attention to the trial, the government statement said.

Huong’s father, Doan Van Thanh, said Siti Aisyah’s release was good news for his family.

“I believe that my daughter will be released too because she is innocent. We haven’t received any information from Malaysia recently, and we are eager to hear from them now,” Thanh told Reuters.

The court is scheduled to presume proceedings on Thursday.

Defence lawyers have maintained that the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents.

During the trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight.

Siti Aisyah and Huong have maintained that they believed they had been hired to participate in a reality TV prank show.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Frances Kerry

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