Shock and delight after Kim suspect walks free

Top News | 12 Mar 2019

Shock and delight rippled through the hometown of an Indonesian woman accused in the 2017 chemical poison murder of the North Korean leader's half-brother after she was freed by a Malaysian court that dropped the murder charge.

As the decision was announced, Siti Aisyah, 27, turned to her Vietnamese co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong, 30, in the dock and the two women, who had been facing the death penalty together, embraced in tears.

They had been accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Prosecutors told the court they had been instructed to withdraw the charge against Aisyah. No reason was given.

Following the dramatic decision, a lawyer asked for an adjournment in the case against Huong in order to submit a request that her charges be dropped too.

Once the court released her, Aisyah, wearing a black traditional Malay dress and headscarf, was rushed to the Indonesian embassy, where she spoke briefly with journalists.

"I feel so happy. I did not expect that today I would be released," she said, adding that she is healthy and had been treated well in prison.

In Sindangsari, about 100 kilometers west of Jakarta, Aisyah's aunt geared up for a party.

"Thank God. I want to say a thousand 'thank you's' she has been freed," said Darmi, who goes by one name.

"They should bring her here straight away because she's not guilty. We've heard the news and we're so happy. We're getting a celebration ready! she added. "Thanks to everyone who took care of my niece."

Aisyah's parents were in the capital Jakarta to await their daughter's return.

Interpol is looking for four North Koreans who were identified as the suspects by Malaysian police and had left the country hours after the murder.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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