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Malaysia frees Indonesian woman in Jong-nam case

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Siti Aisyah, who was previously a suspect in the murder case of North Korean leader's half brother Kim Jong Nam reacts as she arrives in news conference, after a Malaysian court released her of charges at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – An Indonesian woman accused in the 2017 killing of the North Korean leader’s half-brother was released from custody yesterday after a Malaysian court dropped a murder charge against her.

After the court decision to release her, 26-year-old Siti Aisyah hugged her co-accused Doan Thi Huong, a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman, and cried.

The two women had been accused of poisoning Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

From the outset of the case, there were suspicions that Kim Jong-nam was the victim of plot arranged by North Korean agents who left Malaysia in the hours after the killing, and the two women had been merely pawns in a political assassination.

Ms Siti Aisyah had been working as a masseuse in Kuala Lumpur, while Ms Doan described herself as an entertainer.

“We still believe that she was merely a scapegoat,” Ms Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, told reporters.

Prosecutors told the court on Monday that they had been instructed to withdraw the charge against Ms Siti Aisyah. No reason was given for the application.

While the court discharged Ms Siti Aisyah from the case, it rejected her lawyer’s request for her to be fully acquitted, as it said that the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerges.

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