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Vietnamese suspect in murder of Kim Jong-nam expected to be freed in May: reports

송고시간2019-04-01 15:34

Kim Jong-nam-Vietnamese suspect

HANOI/JAKARTA, April 1 (Yonhap) -- A Vietnamese woman indicted on charges of killing Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017, is expected to be freed soon after a Malaysian court has applied a lesser charge of involuntary injury to her, instead of murder, wire reports said Monday.

A Malaysian high court sentenced Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong to three years and four months in prison from the day she was arrested on Feb. 15, 2017, after prosecutors modified her indictment from a murder charge to a charge of voluntarily causing injury to Kim with a dangerous weapon.

Huong immediately accepted her amended charge, paving the way for her release in early May, according to the reports and her lawyer.

This undated file photo provided by AFP shows Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong. (Yonhap)

This undated file photo provided by AFP shows Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong. (Yonhap)

The reasons for the Malaysian prosecutors' decision to amend Huong's indictment have yet to be disclosed. The Southeast Asian country's law stipulates the death penalty for anyone convicted of murder.

Huong and an Indonesian woman named Siti Aisyah are accused of smearing the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam's face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, 2017. He died within minutes. The suspects claimed they believed it was part of a prank show.

Three weeks ago, Malaysian authorities dropped criminal charges against Aisyah and freed her after the Indonesian government's intervention.

Huong's lawyer told the Associated Press his client is expected to be freed by the first week of May, after a one-third reduction in her sentence for good behavior.

If Huong is released, there will be no defendants on trial in Malaysia in connection with the slaying of Kim.

Following Aisyah's release, Vietnam's foreign minister called his Malaysian counterpart on March 12 to call for a fair trial for Huong and her release. The Vietnamese government also summoned Malaysia's ambassador in Hanoi to express strong regrets over Huong's case.

The original charge had alleged the two women colluded with four North Koreans to murder Kim with VX nerve agent. The four North Koreans fled Malaysia on the same day Kim was killed.

In this regard, North Korea has said the man killed in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017 was a North Korean citizen named Kim Chol, instead of Kim Jong-nam, and the four North Koreans just happened to be in the city's airport on the day of Kim's slaying.
(END)

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