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It’s impossible, say family of Indonesian woman held over Kim Jong-nam death

Jakarta: The mother of an Indonesian woman arrested in Malaysia over the death of Kim Jong-nam – the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un – said her daughter was a “simple country girl” and she hadn’t been able to sleep when she learned that she had been named as a suspect in a murder case.

“That’s impossible, my daughter is a good person,” Benah  told Fairfax Media from her home in Ciomas, in Indonesia’s Banten province.

“I was shocked, I couldn’t sleep, all of us at home couldn’t sleep last night thinking about her.

“My daughter is not like that, she is just a country girl.”

Benah said Siti Aisyah had been working in a clothing shop in Batam, a small island in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago near Singapore, and sent about 500,000 to 1 million rupiah ($50 to $100) home each month.

She had told her mother she had a Malaysian boyfriend.

Indonesian immigration spokesman Agung Sampurno said Siti had left Indonesia from Batam to go to Johor, a state in southern Malaysia, on February 2. There was no record of her returning to Indonesia since then.

Benah first learned of Siti’s arrest when she was rung by her daughter’s former mother-in-law who asked if she knew what had happened to “young lady”.

She had not been contacted by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry or police in relation to her daughter’s arrest.

Benah said she had last seen her 25-year-old daughter at Chinese New Year late last month: “She said she was sick, she had a fever.”

Meanwhile Siti’s former father-in-law, Tjia Liang Kiong, scoffed at suggestions that Siti was an agent.

“I just laughed … how can she be an agent? She doesn’t speak any English and her highest level of education is only junior high school,” Mr Kiong told reporters from his home in Tambora, West Jakarta.

Mr Kiong last saw Siti for Chinese New Year on January 28. She divorced his son, Gunawan Hasim, in 2012 but regularly returned to visit her former in-laws because her son lived with them.

Mr Kiong noticed Siti appeared thinner. “I asked what happened to her and she said: ‘I am sick’ and pointed to her chest. I didn’t ask many things of her because I don’t have any business with her. She is no longer my daughter-in-law.”

He said Siti had given her son 300,000 rupiah ($30) and did not indicate whether she would return for the Islamic holiday of Lebaran in mid-year.

Siti and Gunawan married in 2008 and had a son in 2009. “She’s polite, she’s nice, that’s why we let her marry our son,” Mr Kiong said.

She initially worked in Mr Kiong’s textile business but the couple moved to Malaysia in 2011 seeking a better life. However Siti and her mother visited Mr Kiong in 2012 and said she wanted a divorce. Gunawan has remarried and now lives in Dumai in Riau.

After the divorce, Mr Kiong said Siti worked in a shoe factory in her home city of Serang and then moved to Batam.

Representatives from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had also visited Mr Kiong and local police came by while he was talking to the media.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told journalists Siti had been a victim of some kind of trickery.

Detik苏州夜网 reported he did not believe Siti was a North Korean agent because she stayed in Malaysia and did not escape.

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