Following the surprise release on Monday of one of the two suspects on trial in Malaysia for the murder of the North Korean leader’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam, prosecutors revealed Thursday that the other suspect’s trial will continue.
Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam returned to the courthouse in Kuala Lumpur Thursday hoping to hear similar news of her own release, but was instead met with normal proceedings.
Her lawyer then requested the trial be delayed due to his client’s inability to proceed after learning the news, according to Bloomberg, resulting in the granting of a further postponement until April 1.
Vietnam’s foreign minister Pham Binh Minh had discussed the case with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Tuesday, according to Hanoi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), asking “the Malaysian side to ensure fair judgement for Huong & to set her free.”
Indonesian defendant Siti Aisyah was released as a result of a political decision by the Malaysian Attorney General, in consideration of a request from Jakarta to take “into account the good relations between our respective countries.”
But no such political decision appears to have been made in the case of Doan Thi Huong, prompting claims of unfairness by her lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.
Teh suggested Attorney General and Public Prosecutor Tommy Tomas practiced “discrimination” in releasing Siti Aisyah but not his client, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
“It does not bring confidence to our criminal justice system,” he added.
Speaking outside the courthouse after hearing the decision, Teh told reporters about his concerns for Doan Thi Huong’s health, saying “she’s not proper frame of mind, mentally and physically.”
“You can look at her, she was crying this morning, she was depressed, and she didn’t sleep, perhaps did not eat well as well,” he said.
While the defense phase of her trial was set to begin Monday, it was postponed until today in light of the abrupt release of her co-defendant, and now again until April 1 in consideration of her health, Bloomberg reported.
The judge ruled last August that evidence presented by the prosecution in the first phase was “credible,” requiring the defense for both defendants to present the case for their innocence in the face of possible death sentences.
Doan Thi Huong is now the only person standing trial in Malaysia for the February 2017 murder of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, though four North Koreans were also officially named in court as responsible after they had all departed the country.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Royal Malaysian Police
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