Vietnam urges Malaysia free 2nd woman in N


Vietnam has urged Malaysia to release the second woman accused of killing the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader after her co-defendant was unexpectedly set free this week.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the plea in a phone call Tuesday, March 12, 2019, with his counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah.

The women's lawyers say the real killers are four North Koreans - formally accused of the crime alongside the women - who fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong-nam, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur January 22, 2018.

Prosecutors are expected on Thursday to reply to a request by Huong's lawyers for the government to withdraw the murder charge against her as well.

They had been accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Siti Aisyah and Huong have maintained that they believed they had been hired to take part in a reality TV prank show.

Malaysia's Attorney-General Chambers issued the order last Friday not to prosecute Ms Siti, according to a letter revealed by the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Indonesia's government has said its continual high-level lobbying resulted in Aisyah's release. "There was clear evidence and she (Aisyah) confessed", James Chin, a Malaysia specialist at the University of Tasmania, told AFP in a message. I don't know the details.

Aisyah said she hopes Huong is also freed.

Law Minister Liew Vui Keong said Wednesday that the attorney-general has sole discretion in withdrawing the charge against Aisyah.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the plot and argued that the death of North Korean citizen Kim Chol - as Kim Jong-Nam's name appears in the passport he used - was due to a heart attack.

Kim Jong-Nam died on the way to the hospital less than half an hour after receiving the poison that was identified as the VX nerve agent, a colourless and odourless oily liquid classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

Aisyah's swift release had sparked anger in Malaysia, and accusations that the government had caved in to diplomatic pressure.