The Jakarta Post
Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman who was freed after two years in custody on suspicion of murdering Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, expressed her happiness after being released on Monday.
The surprise decision came during Monday’s court session when the Malaysian judge dropped the murder charge against her, just when she was about to take the stand in her defense after months of delays. The judge’s decision came after prosecutors said they wanted to withdraw the charge.
Siti has insisted that they did not know about the murder plot and thought she and another woman were playing a prank on the deceased for a TV show.
“I am very happy, I never expected that today I will be freed,” she said at a press conference with representatives of the Indonesian government in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, which was aired live by Kompas TV.
Siti thanked President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, as well as the Indonesian and Malaysian governments upon her release, adding that she was thankful for all the support she received.
“I am going to meet my family [back in Indonesia],” she said when asked about her plans.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, who accompanied Siti at the press conference, thanked the Malaysian government for its support, following intense lobbying by Indonesia, which included talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and its attorney-general, Tommy Thomas.
“The release followed a long struggle by the Indonesian government based on an order from the President. All stakeholders […] have made efforts to request that charges against Siti be dropped in the Kim [Jong-nam] case,” Yasonna said.
Yasonna added that Jokowi had personally requested Mahathir to release Siti during the Malaysian premier’s visit to the Bogor Palace in West Java last year. The minister himself had met with Mahathir and Tommy in August last year to discuss the issue, he said.
Rights group Migrant CARE has welcomed the Malaysian court’s decision to release Siti.
“Migrant CARE welcomes the dropping of the charges. We have been monitoring the legal process since the beginning. We have seen that the Indonesian government has been proactively providing legal assistance and diplomatic efforts,” Wahyu Susilo, executive director of Migrant CARE, said in a statement.
He added that the decision was connected to a moratorium on the death penalty the Malaysian government had implemented last year.
Wahyu urged the Indonesian government to take comprehensive steps toward the return of Siti, by making efforts to restore her reputation and at social reintegration. (das/evi)