PETALING JAYA: As Indonesian Siti Aisyah was acquitted over the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong should be accorded the same treatment, says Ramkarpal Singh.
"I am of the view that the charge against Doan ought to have been dropped the same way it was dropped against Siti Aisyah, if the Attorney General (AG) was of the view that North Korea had a hand in Jong-nam’s murder.
"Subjecting Doan to further prosecution and not her co-accused, particularly when a prima facie case has been found against both, is, with respect, unprecedented and regrettable," the Bukit Gelugor MP said in a statement Thursday (March 14).
Ramkarpal, who is also a lawyer, said the refusal of the AG to withdraw the murder charge against Doan was "mind boggling and raises questions about the powers of the AG".
Earlier, the AG had rejected Doan's plea to have the murder charge against her dropped while on Monday (March 11), Siti Aisyah was acquitted after prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the charge.
Following this, the judge then discharged the murder charge against Siti Aisyah.
No reason was given by the prosecution why they had decided to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah.
Ramkarpal said since Doan and Siti Aisyah were initially jointly charged for the murder of Jong-nam, it implied that the AG believed there was sufficient evidence against the duo before charging them, adding that the trial judge had even called them to enter their defence.
Hence, he said if Doan and Siti Aisyah remained silent in their defence, they would be convicted of murder, based on the evidence presented by the prosecution.
He also questioned the AG's decision to accede to the request of Indonesia’s Law Minister, Yasonna Laoly, to drop the charge against Siti Aisyah on the basis that North Korea was responsible for the murder.
"If this was the case, why did the AG charge Siti Aisyah in the first place?
"No doubt, the AG has the power to discontinue proceedings against Siti Aisyah the way he did, but why did he not do the same in the case of Doan?
"Both Doan and Siti Aisyah were charged together. Doan has a constitutional right to be treated the way Siti Aisyah was, as she is entitled to equal protection of the law," he said.
Ramkarpal added that as the AG did not give reasons for his decision, Doan would never know why she was treated differently from Siti Aisyah.
"If she is convicted, she will always wonder if Siti Aisyah was equally culpable.
"In cases like these, the discretion of the AG ought to be open to question, particularly when a person’s life is at stake," he said.
Siti Aisyah, 26, and Doan, 29, were charged with four others still at large over the murder Jong-nam at the KLIA2 departure hall at 9am on Feb 13, 2017.
The charge, under Section 302 of the Penal Code, provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.