Woman charged with Kim Jong Nam's killing freed

The Indonesian woman held two years on suspicion of killing North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam was freed from custody Monday after pro

Aisyah hugged her co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, before leaving the courtroom.

Siti Aisyah was accused of smearing VX nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam at an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017.

All murder charges pending against Indonesian national Siti Aisyah have been dropped, without an acquittal, after prosecutors chose to withdraw their case.

The prosecutors did not ask the judge to drop charges against Huong, a decision her lawyer criticized as "unfair".

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.

Speaking at the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia, Indonesian Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly reeled off a list of figures in government - from President Joko Widodo to the foreign minister - who had pushed for Aisyah's release.

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (C) smiles while leaving the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 11, 2019 after her trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Monday was the first time Huong and Aisyah had spoken publicly in the more than two years they spent behind bars.

Prosecutors in court did not say why they were dropping charges. "She can leave now", he said.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong foreground is escorted by police as she arrives at Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam Malaysia Monday
Malaysia: Kim Jong Nam murder suspect freed by court

The pair has been on trial since October 2017 but proceedings have been hit by repeated delays, and Aisyah's defense - which was originally due to start previous year - was on hold due to a row over witness statements before the surprise decision to free her on Monday. "I didn't expect that today will be my freedom day". Her lawyers said she was heading to the Indonesian Embassy and was expected to fly to Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, soon.

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

Aisyah is expected to return home later Monday on the ambassador's private jet. She said that she was well treated in prison and received plenty of encouragement, but that she was eager to meet her family again. "I am innocent - please pray for me", she 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.

"She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah", he said. The defence phase of the trial had been scheduled to start in January but was delayed until Monday.

An Indonesian woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's half brother was released after the prosecutor withdrew the murder charge.

Kim Jong Nam's murder triggered a heated three-week diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea, further isolating Pyongyang.

He had spoken out in the past against his family's dynastic control of North Korea and in a 2012 book was quoted as saying he believed his half-brother lacked leadership qualities. He had been living overseas for years but could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rule.

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