Malaysian Bar chief asks why Vietnamese suspect in Kim Jong Nam murder case was not freed

Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong, who is currently detained in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam, being escorted by Malaysian police officers in Kuala Lumpur on March 15, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's top council of lawyers asked the Attorney-General to explain the release of an Indonesian suspect in the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, but not a second suspect who is Vietnamese.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas should explain the inconsistency, especially since the case has attracted global attention, the newly elected head of the Malaysian Bar Council, Mr Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, said in a statement.

Mr Thomas' office didn't answer a phone call seeking comment on Sunday (March 17) outside business hours.

After Mr Kim Jong Nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017, Ms Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian, and Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese, were charged with murder and accused of smearing VX nerve agent onto his face, Malaysian authorities said at the time.

Charges against Ms Siti have been withdrawn, Mr Abdul Fareed said, while Huong remains in custody, facing trial in the killing.

"There are a lot of questions on why one person is acquitted and the charges against her withdrawn while the other person remains charged," Mr Abdul Fareed said after the council's annual general meeting on Saturday.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo personally greeted Ms Siti when she returned home after being acquitted of charges, a Twitter post by the president dated March 12 shows.

Mr Abdul Fareed was elected to lead the bar council together with secretary Salim Bashir Bhaskaran, who is acting as a lawyer for Huong.

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