Sat, May 04, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Woman in Kim Jong-nam murder freed, case closed


Doan Thi Huong, escorted by Malaysian police, smiles as she leaves Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, on April 1.

Photo: EPA-EFE

A Vietnamese woman who stood trial for the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother was freed from prison yesterday, bringing down the final curtain on a dramatic and often bizarre two-year murder mystery.

Kim Jong-nam died after having his face smeared with a banned nerve agent as he waited at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017.

Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were arrested after being spotted on CCTV approaching Kim Jong-nam, but they denied murder.

The women said they were tricked into carrying out the hit by North Korean agents who said it was a reality TV show prank, and fled Malaysia after the killing.

They went on trial, but in March prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Aisyah after diplomatic pressure.

Then last month, they withdrew murder charges against Huong, who pleaded guilty to a count of “causing injury” and was told she would be released this month at the end of her sentence.

More than two years after her arrest, the 30-year-old was freed from prison in the early morning, racing past journalists in a van with heavily tinted windows.

“I’m very happy, thank you all a lot,” Huong said in a message read by her lawyers.

She went to an immigration office in the afternoon and was due to fly to Vietnam, where she is to be reunited with her family.

No one else is in custody over the murder and those behind the plot are unlikely to ever be punished.

“The assassins have not been brought to justice,” said Huong’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, adding that the women’s legal teams consistently argued that four North Koreans who fled Malaysia after the killing, and were charged in absentia, were the real murderers.

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