NAM DINH: The stepmother of a Vietnamese woman accused of killing the half brother of North Korea’s leader said today she was delighted her stepdaughter escaped the death sentence, urging her to “hang on” until her expected release in May.
Doan Thi Huong dodged the death penalty after a judge reduced her murder charge to causing injury by dangerous means over the killing of Kim Jong Nam with a nerve agent in 2017.
Her lawyers had requested the charges against her be dropped altogether after her Indonesian co-accused Siti Aisyah was suddenly released last month, raising her family’s hopes that Doan might also come home.
“We wanted her to be freed immediately,” her stepmother Nguyen Thi Vy said in her rice farming village in northern Vietnam today.
“The family is happy enough with her escaping the death penalty,” she added after lighting incense to thank ancestors for sparing her stepdaughter from death.
Doan’s new sentence is three years and four months in jail, which includes time served since her arrest in February 2017.
Her lawyer said after sentence reductions she would most likely be released in early May.
Vy urged Doan to stay strong until then.
“To anyone meeting her, please tell her to try to hang on, just one more month,” Vy said.
Doan smiled broadly following her court appearance attended by her father.
Vy broke out in a wide grin seeing smartphone photos of her smiling stepdaughter, whose mental state had deteriorated in detention, according to her lawyers.
Doan underwent a psychiatric assessment last month after her initial bid to be released was rejected.
Both women insisted they were tricked into participating in the brazen attack in a busy Kuala Lumpur airport on the premise that it was for a TV prank show.
A former hair salon worker, 30-year-old Doan left home after high school to study pharmacology and accounting in Hanoi.
With her funky hairstyles and cutting edge fashion, she raised eyebrows back in her conservative hometown in northern Nam Dinh province.
Soon after the murder unverified clips of her on “Vietnam Idol” surfaced, while others showed her kissing a famous social media prankster on a popular YouTube channel.
Her family echoed her pleas of innocence and said they are ready for her to come home.
“I just want her to get married to someone who loves her, life will be easier with a husband and kids around for her,” Vy said.