Malaysia releases Indonesian suspect in Kim Jong Nam case out of goodwill: Embassy

Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah attends a news conference at the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, on March 11, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia decided to drop the murder charge against the Indonesian suspect in the Kim Jong Nam case after taking into account the good relations between Malaysia and Indonesia, it was revealed on Monday (March 11) following the surprise development in the case that has gripped the world.

Malaysia's attorney-general chambers issued the order last Friday (March 8) not to prosecute Ms Siti Aisyah, according to a letter revealed by the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

Upon considering the request, Malaysia's attorney-general Tommy Thomas responded in a letter that "taking into account the good relations between our respective countries", the "prosecution will request the Court to order a 'discharge not amounting to acquittal'".

The news comes two years after Ms Siti Aisyah, 26, was arrested alongside Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 30, for the murder of Mr Kim Jong Nam, who was the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two women had always denied murder, saying they believed they were taking part in a prank for a reality show and were tricked by North Korean agents into killing Mr Kim Jong Nam by smearing VX nerve agent on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

"I feel very happy," said Ms Siti Aisyah at a press conference after she was freed.

When asked what was the first thing she wanted to do, she said: "I want to see my family."

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Indonesian embassy officials said they will be sending Ms Siti Aisyah home by Monday at the earliest.

Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly had requested the Malaysian prosecution to withdraw the charges and "allow her to return to Indonesia, taking into account the good relations between our countries".

Mr Yasonna's letter stated three reasons the prosecution should drop its charges against Ms Siti Aisyah, which included that the Indonesian woman was a victim of deception and had nothing to gain from committing the act.

"Ms Aisyah was led to believe that her actions were for a reality show hence she had no real understanding of the real reason she had to perform as she was asked to and has no intention of killing Kim Jong Nam", Mr Yasonna wrote.

Mr Yasonna also said that Ms Siti Aisyah "had no awareness whatsoever that she was being used as an intelligence tool of North Korea".

"This has been a long journey undertaken by the Indonesian government," said Mr Yasonna during the press conference.

According to the minister, Indonesian government officials had held meetings with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Mr Thomas, and Malaysian police last year as part of their lobbying efforts to free Ms Siti Aisyah.

Ms Siti Aisyah, who was smiling throughout the press conference, had only gratitude to everyone around her.

She expressed thanks to all those in Malaysia and Indonesia - including Indonesian President Joko Widodo - who helped free her.

Doan's trial, meanwhile, has been postponed pending a request by her lawyer for the murder charge against her to be dropped too.

Mr Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who represents Doan, asked the court to postpone Monday's proceeding, where his client was initially scheduled to testify for the first time.

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