Vietnamese woman accused of Kim Jong-nam murder released from prison

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong smiles as she is escorted by Malaysian police officers at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Apr. 1, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/FAZRY ISMAIL

KUALA LUMPUR.- A Vietnamese woman who was accused of the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has been released from prison in Malaysia, her lawyer said on Friday.

Doan Thi Huong, who was sentenced to three years and four months in jail in April after pleading guilty to charges of “causing injury”, was released early for good behavior after more than two years in custody. She had initially been charged with murder before the charges were reduced.

A van presumed to be carrying Huong was seen speeding away from Kajang prison outside the Malaysian capital, according to an epa-efe photographer outside the jail.

Her lawyer, Hisyam Bin Abdullah, confirmed her release to reporters, adding that she is expected to be deported to Vietnam later on Friday.

She and an Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, had been accused of killing Kim Jong-nam with a nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur airport.

Both had denied charges of murder, claiming they were duped by North Korean agents into thinking the act was a prank for a television programme.

The charges against Aisyah were dropped in March without any reasons given by prosecutors.

The killing, which was captured on the airport’s security cameras, garnered worldwide headlines.

In Feb. 2017, Kim was in the departure terminal at a Kuala Lumpur airport waiting to board a flight to Macau when the two women approached him. CCTV footage shows one of them putting their hands over his face from behind before walking away.

Kim then approached a customer service desk and was escorted to a medical clinic, but he died en route to hospital less than half an hour after the incident.

VX is the deadliest nerve agent ever created, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Just one drop of the clear liquid can be fatal. The United Nations classifies it as a weapon of mass destruction.

An Interpol red notice was issued for four North Koreans who left Malaysia after the killing and are wanted in connection with the murder.

The four – Ri Ji Hyon, 33, Hong Song-hac, 34, O Jong-gil, 55, and Ri Jae-nam, 57 – are still at large.

The case sparked a diplomatic row between North Korea and Malaysia, with the two countries each applying travel bans to the other’s citizens. North Korea has denied any involvement.

Kim, who lived in Macau at the time of his death, was the estranged older brother of Kim Jong-un.

He was once considered favorite to succeed their father, Kim Jong-il, as North Korea’s leader, but fell out of favor in 2001 and since then had lived in exile.

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