Malaysia frees Vietnamese woman accused in killing of N.Korean leader’s half-brother

In this file photo taken on April 1, 2019, Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (R), accused in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is escorted by police out of the High Court in Shah Alam. (AFP / Mohd Rasfan)
Updated 03 May 2019
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Malaysia frees Vietnamese woman accused in killing of N.Korean leader’s half-brother

  • Huong and an Indonesian woman were earlier charged with murder of Kim Jong Nam in 2017
  • The North Korean regime was suspected of ordering the assassination of Kim, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule

KAJANG, Malaysia: The Vietnamese woman who was tried for the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader was released Friday from a Malaysian prison and due to fly back to Hanoi later in the day, her lawyer and an embassy translator said.
Doan Thi Huong’s release likely closes the case, since four North Koreans named as co-conspirators in the 2017 slaying are not in custody. Malaysian officials never officially accused North Korea and made it clear they didn’t want the trial politicized.
Vietnamese embassy translator Maridam Yacfar told reporters at the prison that Doan Thi Huong looked “happy” but couldn’t give further details.
Huong’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said Huong went to an immigration office and will fly back to Hanoi later Friday.
Huong, 30, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing injury last month after prosecutors dropped the murder charge against her. She was sentenced to 40 months in prison from the day of her arrest and was released early for good behavior.
Huong was the last suspect in custody after the Malaysian attorney general’s stunning decision in March to drop the murder case against her co-defendant, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, following high-level lobbying from Jakarta. Huong sought to be acquitted after Aisyah was freed, but prosecutors rejected her request. Aisyah returned home to Indonesia.
The two women were charged with colluding with the four North Koreans to murder Kim Jong Nam with VX nerve agent. The women smeared the substance on his face in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, 2017, and have said they thought they were taking part in a harmless prank for a TV show.
The four North Koreans fled Malaysia the day Kim was killed.
The High Court judge last August had found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah, Huong and the four North Koreans engaged in a “well-planned conspiracy” to kill Kim and had called on the two women to present their defense.
Lawyers for the women have 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.
Hisyam said Huong was very joyful when he met her at the prison on Thursday.
“She was smiling from ear to ear. She is looking forward to return home to meet her family and friends,” he told The Associated Press.
After her sentencing last month, Huong told reporters at the court room that she wants to “sing and act” when she returns to Vietnam.
Kim Jong Nam 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was freed on Friday, her lawyer said.
Doan Thi Huong, 30, was charged along with an Indonesian woman with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.
Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Huong last month after she pleaded guilty to an alternate charge of causing harm. Huong will return to Vietnam later on Friday, her lawyer, Hisyam Teh, told Reuters.
Huong was taken into immigration custody immediately after her release from prison and will remain there before boarding a flight to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital.
Teh said his client may speak at a brief news conference before boarding her flight.
“In the event she is unable to talk to media I will read out a statement from her,” he said.
Huong’s co-accused, Siti Aisyah, was freed in March after prosecutors also dropped a murder charge against her.
South Korean and US officials have said the North Korean regime had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.
Defense lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents. The women said they thought they were part of a reality prank show and did not know they were poisoning Kim.
Four North Korean men were also charged but they left Malaysia hours after the murder and remain at large.
Malaysia came under criticism for charging the two women with murder — which carries a mandatory death penalty in the Southeast Asian country — when the key perpetrators were still being sought. (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff Writing by Joe Brock and Joseph Sipalan Editing by Paul Tait)


‘Mother of Satan’ bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

Updated 21 May 2019
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‘Mother of Satan’ bombs show foreign hand in Sri Lanka bombings: investigators

  • Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local militants with Daesh expertise
  • It was also used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, by a suicide bomber who hit the Manchester Arena in England in 2017 and attacks on churches in Indonesia one year ago

COLOMBO: One month after the Sri Lanka suicide attacks that killed more than 250 people, investigators have told AFP the bombers used “Mother of Satan” explosives favored by the Daesh group that are a new sign of foreign involvement.
Detectives said the back-pack bombs used in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three hotels were manufactured by local militants with Daesh expertise.
They named the explosive as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, an unstable but easily made mixture favored by Daesh militants who call it “Mother of Satan.”
It was also used in the 2015 attacks in Paris, by a suicide bomber who hit the Manchester Arena in England in 2017 and attacks on churches in Indonesia one year ago.
Daesh has claimed the Sri Lankan bombers operated as part of its franchise. But Sri Lankan and international investigators are anxious to know just how much outside help went into the attacks that left 258 dead and 500 injured.
“The group had easy access to chemicals and fertilizer to get the raw materials to make TATP,” an official involved in the investigation told AFP.
Sri Lankan detectives say the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), local militants blamed for the attacks, must have had foreign help to assemble the bombs.

“They would have had a face-to-face meeting to transfer this technology. This is not something you can do by watching a YouTube video,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Investigators had initially believed that C4 explosives — a favored weapon of Tamil Tiger rebels — were used, but forensic tests found TATP which causes more burning than C4.
Police have also confirmed that 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives found in January in the island’s northwest was TATP.
They are checking the travel records of the suicide bombers as well as foreign suspects to see when and where bomb-making lessons could have been staged.
“It looks like they used a cocktail of TATP and gelignite and some chemicals in the Easter attacks. They were short of the 100 kilos of raw TATP that were seized in January,” said the investigator.
Sri Lankan security forces have staged a series of raids since the bombings. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said Sunday that 89 suspects are in custody.
Army chief Mahesh Senanayake said last week that at least two suspects have been arrested in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, underscoring the international link.
On April 26, six militants, three widows of the suicide bombers and six of their children were killed at an NTJ safe house near the eastern coastal town of Kalmunai.
Police found large quantities of chemicals and fertilizer there that was probably meant to make bombs, authorities said.
The government has admitted that Indian warnings of the looming attacks in early April were ignored.
But President Maithripala Sirisena has said eight countries are helping the investigation. A US Federal Bureau of Investigation team is in Sri Lanka and Britain, Australia and India have provided forensic and technical support.
China offered a fleet of vehicles to bolster the mobility of the security forces tracking down militants.

The Sri Lankan who led the attacks, Zahran Hashim, was known to have traveled to India in the months before he became one of the suicide bombers.
Moderate Muslims had warned authorities about the radical cleric who first set off alarm bells in 2017 when he threatened non-Muslims.
He was one of two bombers who killed dozens of victims at Colombo’s Shangri-La hotel on April 21.
Army chief Senanayake said Hashim had traveled to Tamil Nadu state in southern India and been in contact with extremists there.
Hashim, one of seven bombers who staged the attacks, also appeared in an Daesh group video that claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Another bomber who was meant to have hit a fourth hotel, has been named as Abdul Latheef Jameel who studied aviation engineering in Britain and Australia.
Authorities in the two countries are investigating whether he was radicalized whilst abroad.
Jameel blew himself up when confronted at a hideout after the attacks.