World

Kim murder suspect escapes death penalty

A Vietnamese woman accused of killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing hurt by potentially deadly means.

A Malaysian court sentenced Doan Thi Huong to three years and four months in jail, starting from her arrest in February 2017.

However, under Malaysian law she could be freed by May, her lawyer said.

Ms Huong would have faced the death penalty if found guilty of the murder.

Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un, was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur Airport in 2017 in broad daylight, with the toxic nerve agent VX.

The development effectively means no-one has been held accountable for Mr Kim’s death.

“In the first week of May, she will go home,” Ms Huong’s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told reporters at the Shah Alam court, outside Malaysia’s capital.

Her step-mother Nguyen Thi Vy told BBC Vietnamese the family was “very happy”.

“We have felt so thankful for all the support from the government, lawyers and communities,” she said.

The judge’s decision comes after Ms Huong’s Indonesian co-defendant Siti Aisyah unexpectedly walked free last month, after intervention from Malaysia’s Attorney General.

Ms Huong’s hopes of a similar outcome were initially dashed on 14 March 14, when authorities rejected her request for the murder charge to be dropped and said her trial would go ahead.

She cried in the courtroom, and told reporters: “Only God knows that we did not commit the murder. I want my family to pray for me.”

Both women have always insisted they were innocent. They say they were tricked into carrying out the killing – which involved smearing a lethal nerve agent on the victim’s face – and believed they were part of a reality TV prank. –BBC

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