AG refuses Vietnamese woman’s bid to drop Jong-nam murder charge

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court March 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court March 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, March 14 — Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong will remain on trial for the murder of Kim Jong-nam as the attorney general (AG) dismissed her application for the charge to be dropped,  the High Court heard today.

Doan 30, is accused in the 2017 killing of Kim Chol or Kim Jong-nam, elder brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Deputy public prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad told judge Datuk Azmi Ariffin of the AG’s decision on the application filed by the defence on March 11, but did not provide a reason for the refusal.

Doan’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said the defence was disappointed with the decision and said it was unfair to his client.

“It is very obvious, my Lord, that the AG has favoured one party over the other, bearing in mind that this court has found a prima facie case against both of the accused.

“The decision is perverse and does not speak well for our criminal justice system. It does not bring confidence to our criminal justice system,” he said in response to the decision.

Huong’s co-defendant 26-year-old Siti Aisyah from Indonesia, was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal after prosecutors told the court that they had been instructed by the AG to withdraw the charge on Monday.

Hisyam then requested the court trial to be adjourned, pointing out that Doan has been unwell since her former co-defendant Indonesian Siti Aisyah’s release and was not in a position to testify.

“I ask the court to be adjourned on the grounds that my client is not feeling well as she has not sleep well the past few nights following the court’s decision on March 11.

“She has been sleeping for only an hour each night and under the current circumstances she is in no position to take the position of oath,” he said.

Hisyam then suggested for the trial to be deferred to April 1 and applied to allow Doan to seek immediate medical treatment.

Azmi then requested Doan, who was in the accused dock to stand up, before asking whether she faced any problems and how she felt.

“I am depressed and I suffer from stress. I have no idea what is going on,” Doan said through an interpreter.

Doan who was wearing a red headscarf, was pale-looking and exhausted when she was earlier brought to the Shah Alam Court Complex to testify in her defence.

Muhammad Iskandar did not object to Hisyam’s request, stating that the prosecution was in agreement that Doan was not well.  

After hearing the request from the defence, Azmi allowed proceedings to be adjourned on the grounds that the accused was mentally and physically unwell based on his observation.

“I allow adjournment solely on this reason. I hope there will be no further request,” he said.

The court then fixed April 1 for trial.

Some Vietnamese embassy staff in court sought to comfort a weary-looking and red-eyed Doan before she was escorted away by police personnel in handcuffs.

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court March 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong is escorted by Malaysian police as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court March 14, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

In a press conference later, lawyer Salim Bashir said the defence will send a second representation to the AG to ask for the murder charge to be withdrawn.

“Perhaps we will also seek the assistance of the Vietnamese government to speak to the authorities here whether they will consider our second representation,” he said.

Vietnam’s ambassador to Malaysia Le Quy Quynh told reporters he was “very disappointed” with the AG’s decision.

“We will request Malaysia to have a fair judgment and release her as soon as possible,” he said.

Doan stood accused of poisoning Jong-nam with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017.

The court ordered Siti and Doan to enter their defence on the murder charge, on August 16, 2018.

Both women have always denied murder. They say 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.

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