Indonesia town cheers as woman in North Korea murder case is freed

Indonesia town cheers as woman in North Korea murder case is freed

Kerry Wise
March 12, 2019

After two years in legal limbo, one of the two women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been set free by a Malaysian court.

The decision came as a surprise to many, including Siti Aisyah herself, and kicked off a dramatic day at the Shah Alam High Court.

Siti Aisyah cried and hugged her Vietnamese co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong, before leaving the courtroom and being ushered away in an Indonesian Embassy auto.

Siti Aisyah will leave for Indonesia on Monday, said the country's ambassador to Malaysia, Rusdi Kirana, The Guardian reported.

Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said Aisyah's discharge without an acquittal means she can be charged again if there is fresh evidence, but there are no such plans now. Her lawyers have asked for the attorney general to review the case, and for the charge to be withdrawn on the same grounds as Aisyah's.

Huong's trial is to resume Thursday when prosecutors are expected to reply to a request by her lawyers for the government to also withdraw the charges against her. They did not give any reason.

The two had allegedly smeared a lethal dose of a chemical nerve agent, known as VX, on Kim Jong Nam's face, which killed him in 15 minutes.

One of the women then places her hands over his face, then both left the scene.

The two women denied the charge, claiming that they they were tricked by North Korean agents into believing that they were taking part in a prank for a reality show.

The letter repeated numerous arguments made by her defense attorneys.

"The release followed a long struggle by the Indonesian government based on an order from the President".

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Some South Korean lawmakers said the North Korean regime had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule. "We have seen that the Indonesian government has been proactively providing legal assistance and diplomatic efforts", Wahyu Susilo, executive director of Migrant CARE, said in a statement.

A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam.

But Huong ended up only reading the first three lines of her prepared testimony in a tearful and stuttering tone.

Her lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, said that her client would soon be returning to her native Indonesia.

There does not appear to have been any such aggressive lobbying effort from Vietnam for Huong, however. "She was in no position to testify".

Wearing a red headscarf and a black, flowery traditional dress, Aisyah maintained her composure during the news conference and said she was treated well in prison.

Once the court released Siti Aisyah, she was immediately rushed to an elevator and was seen being escorted to an Indonesian embassy auto waiting outside the courthouse.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry brought Aisyah's parents to Jakarta, where they are expected to meet their daughter when she arrives, her mother Benah told CNN.

"I'm happy, so very happy".

"They should bring her here straight away because she's not guilty".