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Vietnamese Suspect in Kim Jong-Nam Assassination Expected to Walk Free Next Month

In February 2017, 30-year-old Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and 26-year-old Indonesian Siti Aisyah were accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's estranged half-brother, at an airport terminal in Malaysia by smearing toxic VX nerve agent on his face.

In March 2017, Huong and Aisyah were charged with murder and faced a death sentence if convicted by the Malaysian court. There are another four North Korean suspects who remain at large as they boarded flights out of Malaysia right after the incident. Huong and Aisyah denied the charge and their lawyers argued that Huong and Aisyah were tricked into being involved in an assassination scheme orchestrated by the four North Korean suspects who escaped.

The case dragged on for two years. On March 11 this year, the court unexpectedly dropped the murder charge against Aisyah without explanation. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh phoned Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on the next day requesting that the court should do the same for Huong. However, Malaysia's attorney general refused to withdraw the charge.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik then accused the attorney general of being discriminatory. In the hearing on April 1, prosecutors said that Malaysian attorney general dropped the murder charge against Huong and offered a reduced charge of "voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon" instead. She pleaded guilty and accepted three years and four months in jail, including the time she has served since 2017. Therefore, according to Huong's lawyer, she will be able to walk free in the first week of May this year due to a one-third reduction for good behavior.

As Huong walked out of the courtroom yesterday, she said that she was very happy and looking forward to singing and acting when she returns to Vietnam.

"This is a fair judgment, I thank the Malaysian government and the Vietnamese government," she said. Huong's father Doan Van Thanh also attended the hearing and was overjoyed that his daughter will be home soon.

[Photo via New York Times]

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