Siti Aisyah released on Indonesia’s request, says AG

High-level lobbying by the Indonesian govt frees Siti from Kim Jong-nam’s murder charge

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by BERNAMA

LOCAL prosecutors made a surprise decision yesterday to drop the murder charge against Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman accused in the killing of the North Korean leader’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam.

Following months of high-level lobbying by the Indonesian government, Siti was discharged without an acquittal after the Shah Alam High Court withdrew the murder charge against her without giving a reason.

Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas, in a letter dated March 8, said Malaysia agreed to Indonesia’s request for the prosecution to enter nolle prosequi against Siti pursuant to Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The release would mean that Siti would be free to return to Indonesia.

Indonesian Ambassador Rusdi Kirana expressed his gratitude to the Malaysian administration for her release, stating that the Indonesian government believes in the innocence of Siti.

The embassy said since Siti’s arrest, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had asked for coordination between relevant authorities, including its foreign minister, police chief, AG and the head of intelligence to secure her release.

“In line with the president’s orders, this issue was always raised during the IndonesiaMalaysia bilateral meetings at all levels from the presidential to the foreign ministers, and even at ministerial levels.

“This issue was also discussed with the Malaysian prime minister on June 29, 2018, in Bogor,” it said in a statement yesterday.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement she was “deceived and did not realise at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence”.

It said Siti, a 26-year-old migrant worker in Malaysia, believed she was part of a reality television (TV) show and never had any intention of killing Kim.

Siti was arrested together with Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong. The two women had allegedly smeared VX nerve agent on Kim’s face at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb 13, 2017.

They had claimed that they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show.

The trial will resume on Thursday, with prosecutors expected to reply to a request by Doan’s lawyers asking the government to similarly withdraw the charges against her.

Lawyers for both women have said they were pawns in a political assassination and that the prosecution had failed to show the women had any intention to kill. Intent to kill is crucial to a murder charge under the federal law.

If convicted, both women will be sentenced to death by hanging. However, the government plans to abolish the death penalty and has put all executions on hold until the laws are changed.