Malaysia rejects call to free Vietnamese accused in Kim Jong Nam killing

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A Vietnamese woman charged with assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother has lost her bid for release in Malaysia, days after her Indonesian co-accused was freed.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia said it regretted the Malaysian court's refusal to drop murder charges against Doan Thi Huong and set her free.

Two women were accused of smearing a toxic nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam as he walked through a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal in 2017. "I am innocent. I want my family to pray for me".

The other former suspect in the case, 27-year-old Indonesian Siti Aisyah, was released from custody on Monday after the court dropped the murder charge against her without explanation.

"The way I see it she's not there physically or mentally", the judge said having met her in chambers prior to the start of the hearing.

"We will request Malaysia to be fair and to release her as soon as possible".

They were the only people in custody after four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, had been waiting to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau on 13 February 2017 when two women approached him in the departure area.

Huong's trial was postponed until April 1 after Doan's lawyer said she needed medical treatment.

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The trial began in October 2017 but there had been no hearings since August past year when the prosecution finished presenting its case.

The decision to move forward with Huong's case was slammed by both her lawyer and Vietnam's ambassador, who had hoped she would be given the same leniency as Aisyah.

Proceedings were scheduled to resume Monday with Huong testifying - but the unexpected release of Aisyah led to the trial being adjourned so the Vietnamese suspect could also seek her freedom.

Indonesia had mounted a sustained diplomatic offensive to get Ms Aisyah freed, while Vietnam had only stepped up pressure since the Indonesian woman's release this week.

Prosecutors did not reveal why they rejected Huong's appeal but let Aisyah go free.

Responding to news about the AG's rejection of the application from Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong's lawyers for a withdrawal, the DAP national legal bureau chairman said it raised questions about the AG's absolute power to decide prosecutions in the country.

In a statement, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said subjecting Doan to further prosecution, but not her co-accused, "particularly when a prima facie case has been found against both of them is, with respect, unprecedented and regrettable".

Lawyers for Huong - who could face death by hanging if convicted - then asked the Malaysian government to withdraw the murder charge against her.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's ruling family. The North denies the claim.

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