Woman in NoKor murder case freed
Siti Aisyah smiled as she was ushered through a group of journalists and into a car outside the court, where she had been on trial alongside a Vietnamese woman for the murder of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. “I feel happy. I did not know this will happen. I did not expect it,” said the 27-year-old, who was wearing a red headscarf. When the news was announced in the court outside Kuala Lumpur, Aisyah had a brief hug in the dock with the Vietnamese accused, Doan Thi Huong, who began sobbing. The development was a surprise as the court had only been due to hear Huong testify Monday. Huong was “traumatized” she had not been freed too, her lawyer said, and the court agreed to adjourn her testimony so she could also apply for her charge to be dropped. The women had always denied murder, saying they were tricked by North Korean spies into carrying out the Cold War-style hit using VX nerve agent, and believed it was a prank for a reality TV show. Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats, saying that authorities were unable to catch the real killers. Four North Koreans—formally accused of the murder alongside the women—fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination. The trial, which began in October 2017, had been due to resume Monday with the defence stage of proceedings after a break of several months. But at the start of the hearing, prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad requested that the murder charge against Aisyah be withdrawn and that she be given a discharge, without providing a reason. The judge agreed to discharge not amounting to an acquittal and ordered Aisyah’s immediate release. This means Aisyah has not been formally cleared of the charge and could, in theory, be arrested on suspicion of Kim’s murder again. Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said he was grateful for the decision: “We still truly believe that she is merely a scapegoat and she’s innocent”. But speaking to reporters through an interpreter in court, Huong said she felt “terrible” about her own position. “I do not know what will happen to me now. I am innocent—please pray for me,” said the 30-year-old.