Malaysia won't drop case against Vietnamese in Kim killing

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Malaysia's attorney general ordered the murder case to proceed against the Vietnamese woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother.

Government lawyers announced the decision in court Thursday.

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

Huong's lawyer and Vietnam's ambassador to Malaysia both criticized the decision.

Speaking outside court, Doan's counsel they would be making a second representation to Thomas to drop the charges, saying he had a "moral obligation" come to court to explain why they chose to continue prosecution of Doan but not Siti.

Vietnam's ministers of justice and foreign affairs are communicating with their Malaysian counterparts to secure his client's release, Mr Teh added.

It said Minh requested the Malaysian court conduct a fair trial and free Doan Thi Huong.

Prosecutors had sprung a surprise on Monday by asking the court to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah and free her. "It's very obvious, my lord, that there is discrimination", he said.

Both Huong and Aisyah were accused of putting a poisonous nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam's face at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, 2017. He insists his daughter was tricked into Kim's murder and believes she thought she was part of a prank for TV, as she has said in court. Four men from North Korea who were suspected of being behind the attack fled Malaysia the day Kim was killed, leaving Huong and Siti Aisyah the only two people in custody in relation to the crime.

She has been on trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport that shocked the world.

Defence lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law.

Huong's lawyer had sought a delay for the trial Thursday. "The AG favored one party to the other", Teh said.

In one, a woman identified as Huong puts her hands on Kim's face, while a blurry image shows someone the prosecution identified as Siti Aisyah hurrying away.

When asked by the judge if she was unwell, Huong stood in the dock and said she suffered from tension and stress. "I have no idea what is going on", she said.

Judge Azmi Ariffin said Huong was not "physically and mentally" well enough to continue with the trial on Thursday, and adjourned proceedings until April 1. The defense part of the trial was to have started Monday. She could be seen shaking as she pleaded with Vietnam embassy officials.

She was crushed when she did not get the good news she was hoping for. "The government gave us the best support but the other side could not solve it, what can we do", said Huong's father Doan Van Thanh from his village in northern Vietnam.

The murder of Kim Jong Nam triggered a nationwide manhunt and a diplomatic crisis. It was also found on the women's clothes.

Analysts have said the case against Aisyah appeared weaker since there was no video evidence of her accosting Kim at the airport. There was security camera video of Huong with Kim. The witnesses said traces of VX were found on both women's clothes as well as on Huong's fingernails.

The defence phase of the trial is expected to shift the focus onto the absent North Koreans.

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The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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