Vietnamese woman in N. Korea murder case loses bid for release

Vietnam regrets Malaysian rejection of appeal to free murder accused

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh told the court the rejection of Vietnam's request was "perverse" and a case of discrimination, as the Attorney-General had favoured one party, since the court had ordered both to enter their defence.

Malaysian authorities have rejected a plea to drop the murder case against Doan Thi Huong, the Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea's leader.

Their lawyers presented them as scapegoats and said the real killers were four North Koreans, who were suspected of being the masterminds behind the plot but fled Malaysia shortly after the assassination.

Prosecutors had sprung a surprise on Monday by asking the court to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah and free her. Analysts say Malaysia risks creating a rift with Vietnam if it doesn't do the same for Huong.

While Aisyah's release was partly political, the case against her was also seen as weaker as her lawyers have told the court there was no video evidence showing her accosting Kim at the airport, said Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with Singapore's Institute of International Affairs.

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The judge agreed to delay the trial until April 1, but warned there should not be any more delays after that.

In one, a woman identified as Huong puts her hands on Kim's face, while a blurry image shows someone the prosecution identified as Siti Aisyah hurrying away.

She has been on trial for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport.

"It is so unfair. we are calling for help from the most senior people at the trial to consider releasing my daughter, free her as soon as possible", she said. Teh said Huong was unwell and needed medical treatment. The defense part of the trial was to have started Monday. The foreign ministry said in a statement that she was "deceived and did not realize at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence".

A High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, Huong and the four missing North Koreans engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam. Under Malaysian law, intent to kill is critical to a murder charge.

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Doan Thi Huong broke down in tears as a prosecutor announced the attorney-general had rejected a request to free her and her trial would continue. They also said that government lawyers failed to prove that the women had aimed to kill Kim.

Huong was sobbing as she spoke to Vietnamese Embassy officials after Thursday's court hearing ended. "The government gave us the best support but the other side could not solve it, what can we do", said Huong's father Doan Van Thanh from his village in northern Vietnam. "It's so unfair. The two of them were in this and now one got out, one can not".

A similar white top was worn by a woman shown in CCTV footage from the terminal minutes after Jong-nam was poisoned to death.

Huong could face a death sentence if she is convicted.

The trial featured airport video recordings of two women allegedly assaulting Kim Jong Nam while he prepared to check in for a flight. The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur was defaced with graffiti just hours before the trial was to resume.

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The North denies the claim.

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