Vietnam asks Malaysia to free woman accused in Kim Jong Nam death

Foreign minister asks Malaysia to release Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong ahead of Thursday’s court hearing.

Kim Jong Nam murder
Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police as she leaves court last June [Vincent Thian/AP]

Vietnam has called on Malaysia to free a Vietnamese woman accused of the 2017 VX poison murder of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s half-brother.

The request came a day after a Malaysian court dropped the same charge against an Indonesian woman.

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.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the Vietnamese government said Justice Minister Le Thanh Long had sent a letter to Malaysia’s attorney general, Tommy Thomas, asking Malaysia to free Huong.

Huong’s co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, was freed on Monday.

She and Huong had been accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, with liquid VX at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. A conviction could carry the death penalty.

Minh said in the phone conversation that senior leaders and the people of Vietnam had paid close attention to the trial.

‘Eager to hear’

Huong’s father, Doan Van Thanh, said Siti’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 resume proceedings on Thursday at 10am (02:00 GMT).

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

During the trial, the court was shown CCTV footage of two women assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight, allegedly smearing the liquid VX – a banned chemical weapon – on his face.

Siti and Huong have maintained they believed they had been hired to take part in a reality TV prank show.

Source: News Agencies