Sunday 25 August 2019

Vietnamese woman accused in Kim Jong Nam killing back home after prison release

Doan Thi Huong expressed her gratitude ‘to everybody who prayed for me’ after she was freed from jail in Malaysia.

Doan Thi Huong (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)
Doan Thi Huong (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)

By Associated Press Reporters

A Vietnamese woman who was tried in the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader has been released from a Malaysian prison and has flown back to Hanoi.

Doan Thi Huong expressed her gratitude “to everybody who prayed for me” in a video taken by her lawyer in the plane just before it took off.

“I want to say I love you all. I thank you my Lord Jesus. Thank you so much,” she said.

Her release looks likely to close the case as four North Koreans named as co-conspirators in the 2017 murder are not in custody. Malaysian officials never officially accused North Korea and made it clear they did not want the trial politicised.

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A car believed to be carrying Doan Thi Huong leaves a prison in Kajang (Vincent Thian/AP)

She was the last suspect in custody after the Malaysian attorney general’s stunning decision in March to drop a murder case against her co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, following high-level lobbying from Jakarta.

Ms Huong sought to be acquitted after Ms Aisyah was freed, but prosecutors rejected her request.

The two women were charged with colluding with the four North Koreans to murder Kim Jong Nam, leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother, with VX nerve agent.

The women smeared the substance on his face in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 2017, but have said they thought they were taking part in a harmless prank for a TV show.

Ms Huong’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, earlier said she was taken by immigration officials to their office to sort out her travel documents. She was escorted directly to the plane later.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing injury last month after prosecutors dropped a murder charge. She was sentenced to 40 months in prison from the day of her arrest and was released early for good behaviour.

Thank you Lord Jesus for he loves me so much. I am very happy and thank you all a lot. I love you all Doan Thi Huong

Mr Hisyam told reporters at the airport “the case has come to a complete end” because prosecutors did not file any appeal against the sentence.

He said he and two other defence lawyers would be on the same flight as Ms Huong because they will give a final briefing on the case to the Vietnam Bar Federation, which hired them.

He also read a letter of gratitude written by Ms Huong which thanked the Malaysian and Vietnamese governments.

“Thank you Lord Jesus for he loves me so much. I am very happy and thank you all a lot. I love you all,” she scribbled in the letter shown to reporters.

After her sentencing last month, Ms Huong said she wanted to “sing and act” when she returned to Vietnam.

The four North Koreans left Malaysia the day Kim was killed.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s ruling family. He had been living abroad for years but could have been seen as a threat to Kim Jong Un’s rule.

PA Media

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