Malaysia rejects call to free Vietnamese accused in Kim Jong Nam killing

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

Counsel for Doan Thi-Huong, Hisham Teh Poh Teik, told the court that she had not slept for the past three nights following the decision by the Malaysian attorney general to drop the charges against Siti.

Vietnam had been pushing for her release, and the decision comes days after her Indonesian co-defendant, Siti Aisyah, was unexpectedly freed.

Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

Prosecutors in court Thursday gave no explanation why they refused to drop the murder charge against Doan Thi Huong.

Huong's lawyers said CCTV video showing Huong walking up behind Kim and putting her hands over his face should have no bearing on the attorney general's decision, because both women were mounting the same defence and it had already been chose to free Siti Aisyah.

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 worldwide nature of the case. He said Vietnam's justice minister had written to the Malaysian attorney-general seeking Huong's release and that Vietnam would keep lobbying Malaysia to free her.

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged relative of Mr Kim Jong Un and once seen as heir apparent to the North's leadership.

The court ordered Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan to enter their defence on the murder charge on August 16, 2018.

When asked by the judge if she was unwell, Huong stood in the dock and said she suffered from tension and stress.

The ruling leaves Ms Doan, who arrived with armed guards at the Shah Alam court shortly before 9am and wearing a bulletproof vest, as the sole suspect in the case still behind bars.

Huong looked exhausted and was sobbing as she spoke to Vietnamese Embassy officials after Thursday's court hearing ended.

In Huong's home village her father Doan Van Thanh, who had washed bed sheets in anticipation of her homecoming, was left heartbroken: 'I am very sad. The Indonesian embassy flew her to Jakarta the same day.

Since her shock release, the Vietnamese government has sought Huong's release.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging in Malaysia. They said they would make a second representation to the attorney general. The witnesses said traces of VX were found on both women's clothes as well as on Huong's fingernails.

The trial featured airport video recordings of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight. The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was defaced with graffiti just hours before the trial was to resume.

Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, the two women accused of killing Kim Jong Nam.

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 organization.

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