Woman accused of murdering North Korean leader's half brother freed

Siti Aisyah had been accused alongside Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam of killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing VX nerve agent on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017, in a brazen Cold War-style hit that shocked the world.

Siti Aisyah, who was previously a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam reacts as she arrives in news conference, after a Malaysian court released her of charges at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 11, 2019.

According to The Star, one of the murder suspects, Indonesian citizen Siti Aisyah, 27, has been freed from custody today (11th March) after a judge discharged her with no acquittal at the Shah Alam High Court.

Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said after the court session that Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair to her because the judge previous year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against both of them.

Mr Wahyu Susilo, the executive director of non-governmental organisation Migrant CARE, also welcomed her release, adding that the Indonesian government must now help to restore Ms Siti's good name.

While the court discharged Siti Aisyah from the case, it rejected her lawyer's request for her to be fully acquitted, as it said that the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled it fresh evidence emerges.

Co-defendant Ms Huong was expected to read a statement in court on Monday which would be the first time either of the two gave testimony.

The judge agreed to a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, and ordered Aisyah's immediate release. "She can leave now", he said.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah flew to Jakarta on a special aircraft arranged by the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. "This is my day of freedom".

The Malaysian attorney general personally approved the decision to release Siti, the Guardian reported.

During the hearings in June 2018, Aisyah's lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, in his final submission, told the court that "the investigation was not only shoddy but was lopsided". "I am innocent - please pray for me", she said.

"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said.

Huong's case did not appear to be publicly discussed during Kim Jong Un's recent visit to Hanoi, when he met US President Donald Trump and Vietnam's leaders. The defence phase of the trial had been scheduled to start in January but was delayed until Monday.

Murder charges dropped against one woman connected to death of Kim Jong Un's half brother.

Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicised.

Kim was once seen as a future leader of the isolated country, but when his father Kim Jong-il died, was bypassed in favour of the younger Kim Jong-un.

Jong Nam fell out of favor with their father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, almost two decades ago and lived in self-imposed exile in the Chinese-controlled territory of Macau.

  • Rogelio Becker