Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing North Korean citizen Kim Jong Nam, has thanked those who supported her during the legal battle in a letter released after she was freed on Friday.
Huong, 30, was charged along with an Indonesian woman 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 an alternate charge of causing harm.
Huong was taken into immigration custody immediately after her release from prison, where she remained until boarding a flight from the Malaysian capital to Vietnam later on Friday.
In a handwritten letter, Huong thanked the governments of Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as those involved in her trial and imprisonment, for "all the support".
"I'm very happy and thank you all a lot. I love you all," Huong said in the letter shown by her lawyers at an airport press conference before her flight.
“Thank [you] so much [to] everybody [who] pray[ed] for me [at] the church, and at home as well,” Huong wrote in broken English.
“Thank you Lord Jesus for he love[s] me so much,” reads the letter, dated May 2, 2019.
|A close-up view of Huong's letter|
Huong's father, Doan Van Thanh, said he and her brother would be in Hanoi to welcome her home.
"I am so happy now, my whole village is happy now," Thanh told Reuters by telephone.
"We will hold a party on Sunday and anyone can come and join the party. We will slaughter some pigs for the party. My daughter particularly likes fried fish, so we will prepare that too," he said.
Huong arrived in the Vietnamese capital at 9:35 pm on Friday on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur.
|Doan Thi Huong smiles as she leaves the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam surrounded by reporters on May 3, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
Speaking with the press upon arriving at the Noi Bai International Airport, Huong said she was happy to be back in her home country and sent thanks to the government of Vietnam and Malaysia as well as to her lawyers.
Huong said she had no immediate plan for her future except to spend time with her family in the neighboring province of Nam Dinh.
“We are happy with the release of Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong and that she is reunited with her family in Vietnam,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang the same day.
“This is the fruit of citizen protection efforts by the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, relevant agencies and the Vietnam Bar Federation as well as Malaysian lawyers,” Hang said.
“At the same time, we acknowledge the positive efforts made by competent Malaysian authorities in resolving this issue,” she added.
|Doan Thi Huong take questions from reporters after arriving at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 3, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
Huong’s co-accused, Siti Aisyah, was freed in March after prosecutors also dropped a murder charge against her.
Defense lawyers have maintained the women were pawns in the murder orchestrated by North Korean agents. The women said they thought they were part of a reality prank show and did not know they were poisoning Kim.
Four North Korean men were also charged but they left Malaysia hours after the murder and remain at large.
Malaysia came under criticism for charging the two women with murder - which carries a mandatory death penalty in the Southeast Asian country - when the key perpetrators were still being sought.