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Malaysia drops murder charge against Vietnamese woman in North Korea case

Prosecutors told the court they made the offer of a reduced charge after receiving representations from the Vietnamese embassy and the woman’s lawyers.

Vietnamese national, Doan Thi Huong (C) leaves Shah Alam High Court escorted by Malaysian police, outside Kuala Lumpur on 14 March 2019. Picture: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing harm using dangerous means.

Prosecutors told the court they made the offer of a reduced charge after receiving representations from the Vietnamese embassy and the woman’s lawyers.

Doan Thi Huong, 30, pleaded guilty to the alternative charge, which carries a jail term of up to ten years, financial penalty or whipping.

Huong was accused of smearing Kim Jong Nam’s face with VX poison, a lethal chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

If she had been found guilty of murder, she would have faced a mandatory death penalty.

Huong had been charged together with Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah.

Prosecutors sprung a surprise last month by dropping the murder charge against Siti Aisyah, but later declined to do the same for Huong, despite appeals from the Vietnamese government. No reason was given for the decision.

Last year, a judge had called for Huong and Siti Aisyah to enter their defence, saying there was evidence that the women and four North Korean men were part of a “well-planned conspiracy” to kill the half-sibling of Kim Jong Un. The men remain at large.

The women’s lawyers say they thought they were part of a reality prank show and did not know they were poisoning Kim.