Malaysia Frees Indonesian Woman Charged with the Murder of Kim Jong Nam

Authorities are still looking for answers behind Kim Jong-un's estranged brother's murder two years ago.

by Adi Renaldi
11 March 2019, 11:14am

Siti Aisyah, escorted by police to the Shah Alam court house in Malaysia. Photo by Lai Seng Sin/Reuter

Siti Aisyah can finally breathe a sigh of relief. For the past two years, she has been a suspect in the eyes of the Malaysian government for the murder of Kim Jong-nam, step-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This Monday morning, the Shah Alam High Court in Malaysia finally declared Aisyah not guilty.

Siti and another woman from Vietnam, Doan Thi Huong, were arrested on February 16, 2017, after being accused of poisoning Jong-nam with a nerve agent at the Kuala Lumpur international airport. Jong-nam was dead 20 minutes later, just after landing in Malaysia on a flight from Macau. The two women claimed to have been coerced by a North Korean individual who told them they were in a video for a Japanese comedy.

Judge Azmin Ariffin decided Siti was free of all charges after the prosecutor chose not to take her case any further. Doan’s case, meanwhile, still goes on. The prosecutor had planned to drop all charges against Siti last August, but the presiding judge insisted the accused give an eyewitness testimony beforehand. At the time, Azmin deemed the case to be a “politically motivated murder," but there was still a possibility the case was a “planned conspiracy” between the suspects and North Korean agents.

After hearing of the judge’s decision, Siti was immediately escorted out of the courtroom into a vehicle. Reporters describe how happy and relieved Siti appeared to be.

“I am shocked and so happy,” Siti told reporters from The Star.

Siti’s lawyer assigned by the Indonesian government, Gooi Soon Seng, was also clearly relieved.

“My work is done,” Gooi told The Guardian. “She’s free now, and will be returning to Indonesia soon.”

Watch: Family of Accused Killer of Kim Jong Un's Half Brother Speaks Out (HBO)

The Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia, Rusdi Kirana, says the Indonesian government is making efforts to bring Siti home as soon as possible. “We will do our best to fly her home to Indonesia today, as soon as possible,” Rusdi told the press.

When facing her initial trial in March 2017, Siti was charged with premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty. In CCTV recordings the Malaysia police found, Siti and Doan could be seen wiping a handkerchief laden with VX nerve agent on Jong-nam’s face.

A day before Jong-nam’s death, police also unearthed a CCTV recording showing the two women with a Korean-looking man practicing the attack in the shopping area of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s terminal 2. When approached by Indonesian embassy officials, Siti denied any wrongdoing.

“She says she doesn’t know anything. She also claims she doesn’t know the Vietnamese woman who is also a suspect in this case,” explains Andreno Erwin, Ad-Interim Official from the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia, last March.

International mass media suspects that the murder was masterminded by Jong-un. Some believe Jong-un felt threatened by Jong-nam, who openly expressed critique towards North Korea during his time abroad. North Korea denied these accusations, placing the blame on Malaysia. This case, according to North Korea, is a hostile conspiracy between Malaysia and South Korea to slander Jong-un. In a written statement, Pyongyang has also declared Siti to be not guilty.

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