11 Mar 2019

Kim Jong-nam killing: Charges dropped, accused woman to be freed

4:46 pm on 11 March 2019

Siti Aisyah, the Indonesian woman accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam, is to be freed after the murder charge against her was dropped.

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (C) smiles while leaving the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on March 11, 2019 after her trial for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.


The prosecutor in the case requested the murder charge be dropped, without giving a reason. The Judge approved the request saying "Siti Aisyah is freed", but this does not amount to an acquittal, according to APF news agency.

Aisyah, along with Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong, had been accused of smearing toxic VX nerve agent on Mr Kim's face in Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

Both denied murder, saying they thought they were part of a TV prank.

Ms Aisyah could have faced the death penalty if convicted. Co-defendant Ms Huong was expected to read a statement in court on Monday which would be the first time either of the two gave testimony.

Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of 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.

CCTV footage showed one of them placing her hands over his face, then both women leaving the scene.

He died on the way to hospital from what was later found to have been exposure to the nerve agent VX, one of the most toxic of all known chemical agents.

North Korea has fiercely denied any involvement in the killing, but four men - believed to be North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the day of the killing - have also been charged in the case.

They remain at large despite an Interpol "red notice", equivalent to an international arrest warrant.

Kim Jong-nam, left, and Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-nam, left, and Kim Jong-un. Photo: AFP

Kim was once seen as a future leader of the isolated country, but when his father Kim Jong-il died, was bypassed in favour of the younger Kim Jong-un.

He was largely estranged from the family, and spent most of his time overseas in Macau, mainland China and Singapore.

He had spoken out in the past against his family's dynastic control of North Korea and in a 2012 book was quoted as saying he believed his half-brother lacked leadership qualities.