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Dublin: 7°C Monday 12 April 2021

Kim Jong-nam murder suspect avoids death penalty

The half-brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

Doan Thi Huong leaving court today
Doan Thi Huong leaving court today
Image: Vincent Thian/PA Images

A VIETNAMESE WOMAN accused of killing the North Korean leader’s half-brother has avoided the death penalty after charges against her were dropped. 

Doan Thi Huong had been on trial in Malaysia for a year and a half over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur airport.

The half-brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un died on his way to hospital after being attacked with VX nerve agent. Following the attack, Huong and Indonesian suspect Siti Aisyah were arrested.

Malaysia allowed the two women’s suspected North Korean handlers to leave in the days after the murder, amid a diplomatic row as South Korean capital Seoul accused the North Korean capital Pyongyang of plotting the Cold War-style hit on Kim Jong-nam. 

The women, who claimed they were tricked into carrying out the killing, were put on trial facing a murder charge.

Last month, however, the charge against suspect Aisyah was dropped and today prosecutors withdrew the charge against Huong from Vietnam and replaced it with a lesser one.

She pleaded guilty to “causing injury” and was handed a three year and four month jail term, with her lawyers saying she would be freed next month due to sentence reductions. The women would have been sentenced to death by hanging if convicted of murder.

Huong, a 30-year-old former hair salon worker who had been living a precarious existence among Malaysia’s army of migrant workers before her arrest, said she was “happy” after the verdict was handed down. 

“This is a fair sentence,” she told reporters at the High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur. ”This is a fair judgement, I thank the Malaysian government and the Vietnamese government.”

Her father Doan Van Thanh, who was at court, said he planned to “host a big party to welcome my youngest daughter back home”.

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