Tuesday 16 July 2019

Woman held for murder of Kim's brother goes free as charges dropped

Home: Siti Aisyah laughs during a news conference at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan
Home: Siti Aisyah laughs during a news conference at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Nicola Smith

An Indonesian woman accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, arrived back in Jakarta yesterday after a Malaysian court suddenly dropped the murder charges and released her.

A smiling Siti Aisyah (27), who had been facing the possibility of a death sentence in Malaysia in the morning, was by evening rushed by officials through Jakarta's main airport to her emotional parents.

Ms Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong (30), from Vietnam, had been charged with killing Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

The pair were accused of smearing lethal VX nerve agent on his face, but both claimed that they were duped into believing they were taking part in a reality television prank show and knew nothing of the plot to kill him.

Four North Koreans, believed to be the plot's masterminds, fled Malaysia after the murder and remain at large.

Both women had been in custody for more than two years until the surprise decision yesterday.

No reason for Ms Aisyah's release was given but the announcement from Tommy Thomas, the Malaysian attorney general, revealed that the judgment was made "taking into account the good relations" between the countries.

The young woman, who had first arrived in Kuala Lumpur as an impoverished migrant worker, was "overwhelmed".

"I am surprised and very happy," she said. "I didn't expect that today will be the day of my freedom."

Ms Aisyah's release raises questions about the fate of the remaining defendant, Ms Doan, also from a modest background in rural Vietnam.

Ms Doan was due to testify yesterday after months of delay but the trial was adjourned after her lawyer said she was "traumatised" to learn she now faced the charges alone.

Irish Independent

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