03/13/2019, 15.10
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Vietnam urges Malaysia to release Doàn Thị Hương, who is on trial for Kim Jong-nam’s murder

by Thanh Thuy

The trial of the young Catholic woman will resume tomorrow. “All the relatives are gathered in prayer,” her mother said. The other defendant has been released. Both have the same defence argument: They were duped by North Korean agents.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnam has called on the Malaysian government to release Đoàn Thị Hương (pictured), a 30-year-old Vietnamese woman held in connection with the murder of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Two days ago, the Shah Alam High Court released Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman also accused of the assassination.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, spoke with his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah yesterday, noting that senior leaders and the people of Vietnam were paying close attention to the trial.

Vietnam asked Malaysia to “ensure a fair trial and free Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong”, the government said.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Vietnamese authorities also said that Justice Minister Le Thanh Long had sent a letter to Malaysia’s Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, asking Malaysia to free Huong.

The murder took place on 13 February 2017 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Đoàn Thị Hương and Siti Aisyah were taken into custody three days after the assassination.

After their arrest, the two women claimed that they were duped by some North Korean agents, who got them involved in what they thought was a television prank.

“I don’t know what will happen to me now. I am innocent, please pray for me!" Hương said on the day of Siti Aisyah’s release.

The young woman was born into a Catholic family from Nghĩa Bình, a town near Nan Định City (northern Vietnam). Fr Ph Xm Xuân Thi, a priest from Phương Lạc parish, said that the accused's father turned to him "for help and pastoral advice".

According to Fr Thi, "in the parish no one has anything negative to say about the young woman, except perhaps that she doesn’t come home very often."

The trial against her will resume tomorrow. Meanwhile, family members continue to clamour for her innocence. "I don't think my daughter is capable of committing such a crime," said Đoàn Văn Thạnh, the defendant’s 65-year-old father.

"I don't sleep at night because of anxiety over the verdict. My daughter was deceived. I love her, but now I can't do anything," said Nguyễn Thị Vy, the young woman’s mother. "All the relatives are gathered in prayer, so that my daughter will soon be reunited with our family."

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