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Indonesian Woman Freed Two Years After Kim Jong Nam Killing

2019-3-11

Malaysian government lawyers have unexpectedly dropped charges against an Indonesian woman accused of killing North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother.

Siti Aisyah was released Monday after two years of detention. She had been accused of putting a deadly nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Aisyah and a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, have said they both thought they were taking part in a prank for a television show.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, accused in the 2017 killing of the North Korean leader's half-brother Kim Jong Nam, and who was freed by a Malaysian court, attends a news conference at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Strin
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, accused in the 2017 killing of the North Korean leader's half-brother Kim Jong Nam, and who was freed by a Malaysian court, attends a news conference at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Strin

Malaysia did not give any reason for its decision to drop the charge against Aisyah.

Indonesia’s government had repeatedly asked for the woman’s release.

The Vietnamese government has not been as demanding about the release of Huong, who is still in detention. The country recently welcomed North Korean leader Kim for an official visit and talks with American President Donald Trump.

Aisyah cried and held onto Huong before leaving the courtroom Monday. She told reporters that she had only learned that morning that she would be freed.

Aisyah returned to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, later on Monday. There, she thanked the Indonesian president and other officials for their help.

“I feel happy, very happy that I cannot express in words,” she told reporters at Jakarta’s airport. “After this I just want to gather with my family.”

Huong, who remains on trial for the crime, was deeply upset.

“I am in shock. My mind is blank,” she told reporters after Aisyah left.

The two women were the only suspects charged in the murder. Four North Korean suspects fled Malaysia on the morning of February 13, 2017, the day Kim Jong Nam was killed.

The trial is to start again on Thursday. Government lawyers are expected to answer a request by Huong’s lawyers for the government to drop the murder charge against her.

Aisyah’s release comes just a month before Indonesia’s general election. The move is seen as helpful to President Joko Widodo, who is seeking re-election.

Indonesia’s government said it worked hard for Aisyah’s release. Its foreign ministry said in a statement that Aisyah had been “deceived and did not realize at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence.”

Aisyah is a migrant worker who never meant to murder anyone, the statement said.

After Aisyah’s release, Huong’s lawyer said that events were unfair. Last year, a judge said there was enough evidence for both of the women to be tried for murder.

“There must be justice,” Huong’s lawyer said. He added that she should also be released.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea. They made it clear that they did not want the trial to become a political issue.

Kim was the oldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s ruling family. He had been living outside North Korea for several years. Some believe that Kim Jong Un saw him as a threat his rule.

I’m Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. The editor was Ashley Thompson

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Words in This Story

prank – n. a trick that is done to someone usually as a joke

deceive– v. to make someone believe something that is not true

manipulate– v. to deal with or control (someone or something) in a clever and usually unfair or selfish way