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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Malaysia PM says Release of Indonesian in N. Korea Case Within Rules


7Dnews London

Tue, 12 Mar 2019 12:57 GMT

Notice has been given of the surprise release of an Indonesian woman who was on trial for assassinating the North Korean leader's half-brother. According to Malaysia's prime minister, who said on Tuesday March 12th, this followed the "rule of law", after suspicions of meddling amid an intense lobbying effort by Jakarta.

On Monday, Siti Aisyah was freed by a Malaysian court after prosecutors withdrew a murder charge without any explanation, which is more than two years after she was arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport, for the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam.

Her sudden release prompted questions about interference in Malaysia's justice system, particularly after the Indonesian government revealed that it had lobbied Kuala Lumpur on the case, including pressure from President Joko Widodo. 

However, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters in parliament that the decision was in line with "the rule of law".

"There is a law that allows charges to be withdrawn. That was what happened. I do not know in detail the reasons," he said, adding he was unaware of any negotiations between Indonesia and Malaysia on the issue. 

On Monday, Indonesian officials released a letter from the country's justice minister to Malaysia's attorney-general, which said Aisyah was "deceived" and sought her release, whereby the attorney-general agreed to the request last week.

Her swift release has sparked anger in Malaysia, and accusations that the government has caved in to diplomatic pressure.

"Any (government) can just pressure Malaysia to release a suspect in a criminal case?" wrote one user on Facebook.