Kim Jong-nam death: suspect Siti Aisyah released after charge dropped

Indonesian woman accused of killing estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017

A Malaysian court has dropped the case against one of two women charged with the murder of the estranged brother of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, in a shock decision that delighted her friends and family.


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    Siti Aisyah was released from custody and flew home to Indonesia on Monday after the decision at a court in Kuala Lumpur.

    Along with Doan Thi Huong, from Vietnam, Siti had been charged with the murder of Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. The women were accused of smearing the toxic nerve agent VX on his face as he waited to board a flight to Macau. He died within 20 minutes.

    Both Siti and Doan claimed they had unknowingly been tricked into carrying out the attack by North Korean operatives, who told them they were playing a prank for a Japanese comedy show. They both claim they thought they were smearing lotion on Kim Jong-nams face.

    Profile

    Who was Kim Jong-nam?

    Born 10 May 1971, Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

    Kim Jong-il ruled the country from 1994 to 2011, and during much of that period, Kim Jong-nam had been considered his fathers designated successor.

    However that changed with an incident in 2001, when he was deported from Japan after trying to enter the country on a fake passport. He claimed at the time that he wanted to visit Disneyland. The publicity surrounding the event reportedly infuriated his father, and Kim Jong-nam was pushed aside in favour of his younger half-brother, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

    He is thought to have then lived in exile for years, and unlike other relatives in the Kim dynasty, did not hold an official title or play any part in governing North Korea. He chose a largely private life, but his few public comments included blunt criticism of the North Korea. Just weeks into his younger half-brothers rule, he reportedly described the regime as a joke to the outside world, and said he opposed the hereditary transfer of power in the country.

    Kim Jong-nam died on 13 February 2017, after being attacked with VX nerve agent while he was travelling under a false name from Malaysias Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Macau.

    Justin McCurryand Emma Graham-Harrison

    Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP

    Surrounded by government officials and a mob of reporters at Jakartas airport after her arrival on Monday evening, Siti struggled for words as journalists shouted questions. With a prompt from Indonesias law and human rights minister, she thanked the president, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, and other officials for helping secure her release.

    Earlier, dressed in a maroon headscarf and black trousers adorned with bright flowers, Siti looked tired and pale as she entered the Indonesian embassy, accompanied by the Indonesian ambassador and other officials, but gave a small smile to the gathered journalists.

    Tears came into her eyes as she spoke to reporters. I am very happy, I did not expect my release, said Siti, who had earlier hugged Doan in the dock when the news was announced. This is my day of freedom. Thank you to the Indonesian president, Jokowi, and the Indonesian ministries and the government who assigned a Malaysian lawyer for me. Thank you to the Malaysian government for releasing me.

    Siti
    Siti Aisyah attends a press conference at Halim Perdana Kusuma airport in Jakarta on Monday. Photograph: Mast Irham/EPA

    Siti told Indonesian TV that during her time in jail she had already surrendered myself to God, adding that it was the support of my family my mother, my father and the embassy, that kept me going. Now I want to see them.

    In Sitis Indonesian hometown of Sindangsari, crowds gathered to celebrate the shock acquittal. Sitis parents, who had been vocal defenders of their daughters innocence and regularly spoke to her by phone from prison, had flown to Kuala Lumpur for the trial so were not present, but her aunt Darmi, who goes by one name, said she would be organising a welcome home celebration for her niece.

    Thank God. I want to say a thousand thank yous if its really true that she has been freed, she told AFP. They should bring her here straight away because shes not guilty. Weve heard the news and were so happy. Were getting a celebration ready.

    Timeline

    The death of Kim Jong-nam

    Deported from Japan

    Kim Jong-nam is deported from Japan after trying to enter the country on a fake passport. He is subsequently removed from the succession in favour of his younger half-brother Kim Jong-il. He goes into exile, occasionally criticising the North Korean regime.

    Kim Jong-nam dies

    Kim Jong-nam dies on his way to hospital after seeking help at an information desk in Kuala Lumpur airport because he felt dizzy. CCTV footage emerges which appears to show him being attacked as a woman approaches him and places something over his face from behind.

    First arrests

    A 28-year-old woman, Doan Thi Huong, who holds a Vietnamese passport, is arrested by authorities in connection with the death. Images from the airport show that she had been wearing a white jumper with ‘LOL’ emblazoned upon it at the time of Kim’s death. An Indonesian, Siti Aisyah, 25, is arrested the following day.

    More arrests

    After Siti Aisyah’s boyfriend, Muhammad Farid bin Jalaluddin, is also arrested, Ri Jong-chol becomes the fourth person to be picked up by investigators, and the only suspect from North Korea.

    North Korea outraged

    North Korea demands that Malaysia stop investigating the death, with the state news agency insisting Kim died of a heart attack, not poisoning, and blaming South Korea for a conspiratorial racket.

    Nerve agent confirmed

    Malaysian police announce that Kim was killed with the banned VX nerve agent, classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction. Malaysias health minister later says the dose was so high it killed him ‘within 15 to 20 minutes‘.

    ‘Prank’ mystery

    Siti Aisyah says she waspaid $90 to take part in what she believed was a prank.

    Travel ban

    The diplomatic row over the death escalates to tit-for-tat travel bans being enforced between Malaysia and North Korea. Previously Malaysia had been one of very few countries to allow easy travel to North Korea.

    Body returned

    Kim Jong-nam’s body is repatriated. The same plane carries three North Korean men initially named by Malaysian police as suspects in his murder.

    Not guilty pleas

    Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong plead not guilty at the start of their trial. Three days later the court hears how traces of the banned VX nerve agent were found on both women.

    Re-enactment chaos

    There are chaotic scenes at Kuala Lumpur airport as suspects Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, handcuffed and wearing bulletproof vests, are walked around the alleged crime scene in a re-enactment. Halfway through the visit, the distressed women cannot continue on their own, and are then pushed around in wheelchairs.

    Missed opportunity

    The court is told that Kim Jong-nam wascarrying an antidote to the nerve agent that killed him in his bag at the time of his death. Before his death he was said to be paranoid that the North Korean regime would strike against him.

    Trained assassins claim

    As the women’s trial continues, the Malaysian prosecution argues that the pair must have been trained as assassins, alleging that footage showing them heading to the bathrooms shortly after the attack indicates that they knew they had to remove the lethal nerve agent from their skin.

    Aisyah freed

    Two years after her initial arrest, and 17 months after her trial began, charges are unexpectedly dropped against Siti Aisyah, and she is released. The trial of Doan Thi Huong is expected to continue.

    Prosecutors did not give any reason for the remarkable retreat in their case against Siti. While the court her from the case, it rejected her lawyers request for a full acquittal, as it said that the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerged.

    Indonesias government said Sitis release was the result of its continual high-level lobbying.

    Jokowi, who is facing an election next month, met the Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir, last July to address Sitis case.

    According to a letter signed by the Malaysian attorney general on 8 March, the decision to drop the charges against Siti came after taking into consideration the good relations between our respective countries.

    The foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that Siti was deceived and did not realise at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence.

    The ministry said Sitis plight was raised in every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting, both at the presidents level, the vice-president and regular meetings of the minister of foreign affairs and other ministers with their Malaysian partners.

    The discharge order applies only to Siti. Doans trial is to resume on Thursday, when prosecutors are expected to reply to a request her lawyers for the government to withdraw the murder charge against her as well. Doan was distraught on Monday, telling reporters after Siti left: I am in shock. My mind is blank.

    Kim had originally been the favoured child to take over from his father, Kim Jong-il, but became estranged from the family after an incident in 2001, when he was arrested trying to get into Japan on a fake Dominican passport with the Mandarin alias fat bear. He later admitted he had been trying to visit Disneyland in Tokyo.

    The incident was said to have caused embarrassment to Kim Jong-il, who cut ties with his son and refused to let him back to Pyongyang. Kim Jong-nam instead settled in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. He expressed little desire to return to North Korea, and angered his younger brother, who took over the leadership in 2011, by saying the world would view Kim Jong-uns leadership as a joke.

    However, Kim was reported to have become increasingly fearful and paranoid in the past few years, fearing retribution from his brother. The court case revealed he had been carrying 12 doses of an atropine, an antidote to VX nerve agent, in his bag at the time of his death.

    His death sparked a diplomatic standoff between North Korea and Malaysia, with the countries briefly banning the others citizens from leaving.

    Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

     


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