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Indonesian woman charged with killing Kim Jong-nam freed

Siti Aisyah

Kuala Lumpur, March 11 (UITV/IANS) - An Indonesian woman accused of using a lethal nerve agent to kill Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was freed on Monday after Malaysian prosecutors declined to move forward with their case against her.

The prosecution's decision to withdraw the charge against Siti Aisyah came as a surprise to many, including the defendant herself, CNN reported.

Following the verdict, Aisyah told the media that she was "shocked" to be free. She is expected to depart for her home country later in the day, her lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said.

Gooi said it was unclear why prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the charge, as they did not give a reason in court.

Indonesia's Ambassador to Malaysia, who was in court with Aisyah, thanked the judge and the Malaysian government.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry transported Aisyah's parents to the capital of Jakarta, where they are expected to meet their daughter when she arrives, her mother Benah told CNN.

Aisyah and Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong were both charged with murdering Kim Jong-nam in February 2017.

Authorities said that the two women exposed Kim Jong-nam to the nerve agent VX as he entered an airport in Kuala Lumpur, killing him in minutes.

Security footage of the incident leaked to the public shows a woman approaching him from behind, rubbing something on his face and then running away.

Lawyers for the two women have claimed that they were duped by a team of North Korean agents, who tricked them into thinking they were taking part in a reality TV show. Each pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, the case against Huong will take a major step forward later on Monday, when she is expected to testify. It will be the first time she has publicly discussed the incident since her arrest in 2017.

Malaysian prosecutors also charged four North Koreans with Kim Jong-nam's killing but their whereabouts remain unknown. The Interpol has put out red notices for each of them, asking governments around the world to return them to Malaysia to face trial.

North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in the killing, though the US, South Korean and Malaysian authorities have held Pyongyang responsible.

Kim's apparent assassination kicked off a heated three-week diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea.

The dispute ended after nine Malaysians effectively bared from leaving Pyongyang were allowed to return home and three North Koreans were permitted to leave Malaysia.