Vietnam asks Malaysia to ensure fair trial for Doan Thi Huong


Malaysia's attorney general on Thursday rejected Vietnam's request to free a woman accused in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, and a court set April 1 for her trial to resume.

A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam. The prosecutor did not elaborate.

The other woman accused of the killing, Siti Aisyah, 27, an Indonesian, was unexpectedly released earlier this week following a plea from Jakarta. They said they would make a second representation to the attorney general.

"Doan is a scapegoat", said lead defence lawyer Hisyam Teoh Poh Teik.

The Vietnamese side has also mentioned the case during meetings at all levels, even the most senior levels, with the Malaysian side, she added.

Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor some two decades ago and lived in self-imposed exile in the Chinese-controlled territory of Macau.

Kim Jong Nam, left, exiled half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, in Narita, Japan, on May 4, 2001, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on May 9, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The decision means that Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam will remain as the only suspect in the case still behind bars, CNN reported.

Huong arrived in court looking anxious.

Doan Thi Huong's family say she is a good girl who fell into the murder plot unwittingly
Kim Jong-Nam murder suspect loses bid for release

In Vietnam, Doan's father, Doan Van Thanh, said the ruling had saddened the entire family, after the release of Siti Aisyah had raised their hopes.

"The way I see it she's not there physically or mentally", the judge said having met her in chambers prior to the start of the hearing.

"As the AG need not give reasons for his decision, Doan will never know why she was treated differently from Siti Aisyah".

Ambassador Le Quy Quynh said he was "very disappointed" with the decision.

Huong bowed her head as she was escorted back to prison by armed police.

The pair had always denied murder, saying they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the Cold War-style killing using a highly toxic nerve agent, and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show.

Officials in South Korea and the United States say North Korea was behind the assassination.

"The whole extended family was expecting Huong to be freed and sent home, but that was not the decision, so we are very sad", he told the Vietnamese Service of Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister news service of BenarNews, from northern Nam Dinh province.

The go-ahead was given by the Malaysian attorney general, the court was informed.

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