Malaysia court frees woman in North Korea murder case | Bangkok Post: news

Search Switch
Remove

News > Asean

video update

Malaysia court frees woman in North Korea murder case

Indonesia says high-level pressure contributed to release

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah smiles while leaving the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on Monday after her trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP photo)

- +

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia: An Indonesian woman accused of assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother was freed Monday after Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against her, in a shock decision a year and a half after she went on trial.

Indonesia said its high-level lobbying had prompted the release.

Siti Aisyah smiled as she was ushered through a pack of journalists and into a car outside the court, where she had been on trial alongside a Vietnamese woman for the murder of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

"I feel happy. I did not know this will happen. I did not expect it," said Aisyah, who was wearing a red headscarf.

It was a surprise move as the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, had been due only to hear Huong's testimony on Monday. Her lawyers said they were seeking an adjournment.

The women, in their 20s, had always denied murder, saying they believed they were taking part in a prank and were tricked by North Korean agents into carrying out the Cold War-style hit using VX nerve agent.

Their lawyers had presented them as scapegoats, saying that authorities were unable to catch the real killers.

Four North Koreans -- formally accused of the murder alongside the women -- fled Malaysia shortly after the murder.

The trial, which began in October 2017, was due to resume Monday with the defence stage of proceedings after a break of several months.

But at the start of the hearing, prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad requested that the murder charge against Aisyah be withdrawn and that she be given a discharge.

He gave no reason for the request.

"Siti Aisyah is freed," judge Azmin Ariffin told the court, as he approved a request. "She can leave now."

Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana told reporters outside court: "We are pleased with the court decision. We will try to fly Siti back to Indonesia today or as soon as possible."

Indonesia's government said its continual high-level lobbying resulted in the release of the Indonesian woman who was charged with the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half brother in Malaysia.

The foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that Siti Aisyah was “deceived and did not realise at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence.

It said Aisyah, a migrant worker, believed that she was part of a reality TV show and never had any intention of killing Kim Jong Nam.

The ministry said Malaysia's attorney general used his authority under Malaysia's criminal procedure code to not continue the prosecution.

It said Aisyah's plight was raised in “every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting, both at the President's level, the Vice-President and regular meetings of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other Ministers with their Malaysian partners.”

Prosecutors had presented their case in the first stage of the trial. Witnesses described how the victim -- the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un and once seen as heir apparent to the North Korean leadership -- died in agony shortly after being attacked.

In August, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence the suspects had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" with the four North Koreans to murder Kim, and ordered that the trial continue to the defence stage.

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit, which Pyongyang denies.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death in Malaysia. The government has vowed to abolish capital punishment for all crimes, although parliament still needs to vote on changing the law.

RELATED STORIES

8 people commented about the above

Readers are urged not to submit comments that may cause legal dispute including slanderous, vulgar or violent language, incorrectly spelt names, discuss moderation action, quotes with no source or anything deemed critical of the monarchy. More information in our terms of use.

Please use our forum for more candid, lengthy, conversational and open discussion between one another.