Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong-un's half-brother freed by court

Kim Jong-nam: Indonesian woman to be freed in murder case

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.

The High Court judge discharged Aisyah without an acquittal after prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the murder charge against her.

Huong's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said Huong felt Aisyah's discharge was unfair to her as the judge a year ago had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against them.

Prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad told Reuters the decision to withdraw the charge against her was made based on "several representations" but declined to elaborate.

It said Aisyah's plight was raised in "every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting, both at the President's level, the Vice-President and regular meetings of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other Ministers with their Malaysian partners".

Indonesia Ambassador Rusdi Kirana expressed gratidude for the decision.

Aisyah is expected to return home to Indonesia Monday evening, as officials make preparations for her departure.

She was expected to testify for the first time in court on Monday, but she only read a few lines of her prepared statement tearfully.

From the outset of the case, there were suspicions that Kim Jong Nam was the victim of plot arranged by North Korean agents who left Malaysia in the hours after the killing, and the two women had been merely pawns in a political assassination.

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The pair has been on trial since October 2017 but proceedings have been hit by repeated delays, and Aisyah's defense - which was originally due to start past year - was on hold due to a row over witness statements before the surprise decision to free her on Monday.

The two women have said they were conned by North Korean agents into committing the murder, stating that they had thought they were performing a prank for a reality TV show.

A murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of death in Malaysia.

Prosecutors in court did not say why they were dropping charges. Her lawyers said they were seeking an adjournment. "I am innocent - please pray for me", she said.

Her lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, has also asked for her client's charges to be withdrawn.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's ruling family.

"There has been a long process to free her... since she was detained", Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told reporters in Jakarta. Aisyah told an investigating officer that she was paid around $100 to take part in various pranks outside a Malaysian mall for a Japanese YouTube show.

In August, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence the suspects had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" with the North Koreans to murder Kim, and ordered that the trial continue to the defense stage.

The Malaysian government is considering abolishing capital punishment for all crimes, however it is uncertain if the changes will be implemented before the sentence is handed down.

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