Vietnam urges Malaysia free 2nd woman in North Korean killing

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (C) is escorted by Malaysian police after a hearing at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 11, 2019 during trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2019
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Vietnam urges Malaysia free 2nd woman in North Korean killing

  • Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam has urged Malaysia to release the second woman accused of killing the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader.
Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the plea in a phone call Tuesday with his counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, according to a statement on the ministry website. It said Minh requested the Malaysian court conduct a fair trial and free Doan Thi Huong.
Malaysia on Monday dropped the murder charge against her co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who has returned to her home village.
Huong’s murder trial is to resume Thursday, and prosecutors are expected to reply to a request by Huong’s lawyers for the government to withdraw the murder charge against her as well.
The two women were accused along with four missing North Koreans of killing Kim Jong Nam by VX nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in 2017. Both women say they were thought they were playing a prank for a TV show.
Prosecutors did not give any reason for the remarkable retreat in their case against Aisyah, whose home government had lobbied hard for her release.
Vietnam has pushed less hard on behalf of Huong, and recently hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for an official visit and a summit with President Donald Trump.
Indonesia’s government said its continued high-level lobbying had resulted in Aisyah’s release and alleged the young migrant worker had no idea she was being “manipulated by North Korean intelligence.”
Huong’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said after Monday’s court session that Huong felt Aisyah’s discharge was unfair to her because the judge last year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against both of them.
“She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah,” he said.
Lawyers for the women have previously said that they were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under Malaysian law.
Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.
Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s ruling family. He had been living abroad for years but could have been seen as a threat to Kim Jong Un’s rule.


US military helicopter destroyed in Afghanistan 'hard landing'

Updated 11 sec ago
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US military helicopter destroyed in Afghanistan 'hard landing'

KABUL: Passengers and crew aboard a US military helicopter were injured when the chopper they were traveling in was destroyed during a “hard landing” in Afghanistan, a US official said Saturday.
According to Col. David Butler, a spokesman for US Forces Afghanistan, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter “hit the ground hard on the way to drop passengers off” during a mission in Helmand province.
Butler said the helicopter had been totally destroyed during the landing.
“Both Afghan and US personnel were injured but all are stable and expected to recover,” he told AFP.
“No hostile fire or enemy contact involved.”
Chinooks, easily recognizable because they have one rotor at the front and one at the back, are the workhorse aircraft for foreign forces in Afghanistan, and are used to ferry troops and supplies across the country.