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Murder Trial To Proceed Against 2nd Woman In Killing Of Kim Jong Un's Half-Brother

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, center, is escorted by police as she leaves Shah Alam High Court in Malaysia on Thursday. Malaysia's attorney general ordered the murder case to proceed against the Vietnamese woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother.

The case against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother will go forward, prosecutors in Malaysia said Thursday.

Two women were accused of smearing a toxic nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam as he walked through a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal in 2017. The man was dead within 20 minutes, and the women — who said they thought they were taking part in a Japanese game show — were arrested and charged with murder.

Just as the defense phase of the trial was about to begin Monday, one of the women — an Indonesian named Siti Aisyah, 27 — was unexpectedly freed. The murder trial of the other woman — Doan Thi Huong, 30, of Vietnam — was put on hold. But now Malaysia's attorney general has ordered that her trial proceed. Prosecutors did not explain the decision.

"God knows that Siti and I did nothing wrong," Huong told reporters in court through an interpreter, according to the Guardian. "Please call my father, call my family, and ask for them to pray for me."

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court the decision was "perverse," as her case was so similar to Aisyah's. "Very obviously, there is discrimination," he said, according to the Associated Press. "The AG favored one party to the other."

Vietnamese Ambassador Le Quy Quynh said he was "disappointed," and that his country had been lobbying for Huong's release, and would continue to do so. The Indonesian government made it a point to push for Aisyah's release in every meeting between officials from the two countries, the AP has reported.

Huong's trial was postponed until April 1 after Doan's lawyer said she needed medical treatment. The Guardianreported that Huong looked pale and drawn. Reluctantly agreeing to postpone the trial, the judge said: "I wish I could just carry on but the accused is clearly not mentally or physically fit to testify."

Sobbing, Huong was handcuffed to be taken back to jail, the Guardian said. She could be seen shaking as she pleaded with Vietnam embassy officials.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").
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