ĐOÀN THỊ HƯƠNG VIETNAM IDOL, VIETNAMESE WOMAN, ACCUSED OF KILLING NORTH KOREAN

Kim Jong Nam, the estranged relative of Kim Jong Un who was once seen as the heir apparent lớn the North"s leadership, died in agony after having his face smeared with a banned nerve agent as he waited at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

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A Vietnamese woman who stood trial for the assassination of the North Korean leader"s half-brother arrived home Friday, bringing down the curtain on a dramatic & often bizarre two-year murder mystery.


Kim Jong Nam, the estranged relative of Kim Jong Un who was once seen as heir apparent khổng lồ the North"s leadership, died in agony after having his face smeared with a banned nerve agent as he waited at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.


The sensational killing made headlines around the world and sparked a furious diplomatic row as Seoul accused Pyongyang of an elaborate plot to lớn murder a figure who had spent years in exile and been critical of his family"s rule.


Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Indonesian national Siti Aisyah were arrested after being spotted on CCTV approaching Kim, but they always denied murder.


The women instead insisted they were tricked into carrying out the hit by North Korean agents, who told them it was a reality TV show prank và fled Malaysia after the killing.


The Vietnamese suspect was met by throngs of reporters at Hanoi"s Noi Bai airport Friday evening, saying she was relieved to be trang chủ and happy lớn start her next chapter.


"I am so happy to lớn come back to my country," said Huong, wearing large sunglasses as she arrived home with her Malaysian lawyers.


Huong & Aisyah were both on trial in Malaysia for the Cold War-style killing, but in March, prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Aisyah after diplomatic pressure & she flew home.


Last month, they withdrew murder charges against 30-year-old Huong, who pleaded guilty khổng lồ a reduced count of "causing injury" và was told she would be released in May at the kết thúc of her sentence.


The Vietnamese former hair salon làm tóc worker left her rice farming village after secondary school, raising eyebrows with her funky fashions và edgy hairstyles.


Clips of her on Vietnam Idol soon circulated online, along with unverified footage of her kissing the star of a popular Vietnam You
Tube channel.


More than two years after her arrest, Huong was freed from a prison outside the Malaysian capital early Friday before her flight back trang chủ later in the day.


"I felt so lonely và I missed my home so much -- that was my most fearful feeling. I cried all the time," she told reporters before being whisked away in a van.


While there is a relief for the women, no one else is in custody over the murder and those behind the plot are unlikely to lớn ever be punished.


"The assassins have not been brought khổng lồ justice," said Huong"s lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, adding the women"s legal teams consistently argued that four North Koreans who fled Malaysia after the killing, and were charged in absentia, were the real murderers.


The women were arrested after they were captured on airport CCTV cameras walking up behind Kim as he waited for a flight. One was seen clasping her hands over his face.


The women, who faced death by hanging if convicted of murder, went on trial in October 2017 but the case was slow-moving due to the large number of witnesses và appeals from the defence teams.


The defence stage of the trial had been due to lớn get underway in March before prosecutors suddenly dropped charges against Aisyah, 27, following intense diplomatic pressure from the Indonesian government.


Vietnam then stepped up pressure for Huong"s murder charge lớn be dropped & at the start of April, prosecutors offered her the lesser charge, paving the way for her release.


Vietnam"s foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang welcomed her return home, saying on Twitter she was "glad" Huong had been released and was "reunited with her family".

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Pyongyang has never admitted to lớn killing Kim Jong nam -- it claims the dead man was a North Korean citizen named Kim Chol -- and that the accusations were a smear campaign.


The assassination sparked a furious row between North Korea và Malaysia, previously one of nuclear-armed Pyongyang"s few allies, & prompted both countries to lớn expel each other"s ambassadors.


Ties have improved in recent times, however, with Malaysia saying it plans to lớn reopen its embassy in Pyongyang, which was closed shortly after the murder.

A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was released from jail và returned to Vietnam on Friday.
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Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong, who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison for allegedly killing Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, smiles upon her arrival at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi on Friday. (Kham/Reuters)

A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was released from jail and returned lớn Vietnam on Friday.

Doan Thi Huong and an Indonesian woman were charged with poisoning Kim Jong-nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Huong last month after she pleaded guilty to lớn an alternate charge of causing harm.

The 30-year-old arrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, just outside the Vietnamese capital, late on Friday, where she spoke to lớn a large group of media gathered inside the terminal building.

"I feel happy when returning to lớn my country," said Huong, who said she was looking forward to heading to her family home, a small town in the province of phái mạnh Dinh, 130 kilometres from Hanoi.

I still don't really know what to bởi next. But I think I want lớn become an actress.- Doan Thi Huong
Ahead of her arrival, Huong's father, Doan Van Thanh, told Reuters he was planning khổng lồ celebrate his daughter's return with a large buổi tiệc nhỏ in their village.

"We will slaughter some pigs for the party. My daughter particularly likes fried fish, so we will prepare that too," Thanh said.

In a letter shared by Huong's lawyers ahead of her departure from Kuala Lumpur, Huong thanked the governments of Vietnam and Malaysia for their support.

Her co-accused, Siti Aisyah, was freed in March after prosecutors also dropped a murder charge against her.

South Korean và U.S. Officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, who had been critical of his family's dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.


Defence lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in an assassination orchestrated by North Korean agents. The women said they thought they were part of a reality prank show và did not know they were poisoning Kim.

Four North Korean men were also charged, but left Malaysia hours after the murder and remain at large.

Malaysia was criticized for charging the two women with murder — which carries a mandatory death penalty in the Southeast Asian nation — when the key perpetrators were still being sought.

Huong, a keen singer who once appeared on the Vietnam Idol talent show, told reporters she had no plans to return to lớn Malaysia soon, but was considering her future plans.

"I still don't really know what to vì next," said Huong. "But I think I want khổng lồ become an actress."

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