Jong-nam murder trial: Doan is not fit for trail, says lawyer

Clay Curtis
March 14, 2019

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, center, is escorted by police as she arrives at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Thursday, March 14, 2019.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia said it regretted the Malaysian court's refusal to drop murder charges against Doan Thi Huong and set her free.

Huong's lawyer said he would make a second bid to get the charge against her dropped, and said failing to free her following Aisyah's release "does not bring confidence to our criminal justice system".

It said Minh asked for the Malaysian court to conduct a fair trial and free Huong.

Analysts said Aisyah's release was in part due to politics and the improved relations between Indonesia and Malaysia that have come since Mahathir Mohamad returned to the Malaysian premiership previous year after the stunning election defeat of Najib Razak.

Huong's counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik described the decision as "unfair" to his client. Very obviously, there is discrimination. "More so in this case because two people were charged, but it was withdrawn against one but not against the other".

Both women maintain they were tricked into carrying out the attack, which they thought was part of a TV reality show.

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.

Prosecutors say Malaysia's attorney general has ordered the murder case to proceed against a Vietnamese woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's half brother. He said Huong only slept an hour a night since Aisyah's release and was not in a position to testify.

Huong stood in the dock and responded to the judge's questions on the deferment request, saying she suffered from tension and stress.

"I have no idea what is going on, " a exhausted and pale-looking Huong, who was wrapped in a red headscarf and a coat, said through an interpreter.

The trial is now expected to begin on April 1. Speaking to Vietnam embassy officials she shook violently, and pleaded with them.

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In Huong's village in Vietnam, her family was crestfallen.

She was crushed when she did not get the good news she was hoping for.

"I am very sad". "I am not angry that Siti has been freed".

Hương said she was innocent and wished to continue receiving support from relevant agencies.

Speaking through tears, Ms Huong told reporters in court: "I am depressed".

Huong would face a death sentence if she is convicted of murder.

Huong's lawyers said they were deeply disappointed with the decision and the attorney general had a "moral obligation" to explain the reasoning given the global nature of the case. He urged the attorney-general to be transparent and explain why he dropped the case against Aisyah but not Huong.

Mr Kim died on the way to hospital from what was later found to be exposure to the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic of all known chemical agents.

He said the fact that both had been charged implied that the AG believed there was sufficient evidence against the duo. "I have no idea what is going on", she said.

Prosecutors have contended the women were trained assassins who knew they were handling poison because they carefully held out their hands away from their bodies and went to separate restrooms to wash their hands afterward.

On Malaysia's request, Interpol has issued arrest warrant for the four men, who are believed to be back in Pyongyang, but North Korea is not a member of the organisation.

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