Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Ex-spy says alleged killers amateurs

‘JUST FOR LAUGHS’:Kim Hyon-hui said reports that two women were tricked into spraying poison on Kim Jong-nam were wrong because they would not have fled

Reuters, TOKYO

Former North Korean spy Kim Hyon-hui said the alleged assassins of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to be amateurs, the Mainichi newspaper reported yesterday.

Kim Jong-nam, the elder half-brother of Kim Jong-un, was killed in an apparent assassination on Monday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the Malaysian capital.

Malaysian police said they had arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder, after detaining two female suspects earlier this week.

Kim Hyon-hui, who bombed a Korean Air jet in 1987 after being trained as a North Korean agent, told the Japanese newspaper in a written interview it was unthinkable that the women received strict training.

“I felt suspicious. They don’t seem to have taken strict psychological and physical education and training in North Korea,” she told the newspaper.

According to Malaysian media reports, the women told police they had been involved in a prank.

“They would not have run away if that was the case,” Kim Hyon-hui said.

On Friday, Indonesia’s police chief said an Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the killing was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank.

Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian, citing information received from Malaysian authorities, told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh Province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in Just For Laughs-style pranks, a reference to a popular hidden-camera show.

He said she and another woman performed stunts that involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.

“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”

Kim Hyon-hui also emphasized a link with North Korea, as the date of the murder was close to the Feb. 16 birthday of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, father of Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-nam, and that Kim Jong-il’s nephew Lee Han-young was shot dead on Feb. 15, 1997.

Lee, a North Korean defector, was shot and killed in South Korea by two assailants who were never caught, but were suspected to be North Korean agents.

Kim Hyon-hui and another North Korean spy planted a bomb on a Korean Air flight in 1987, the year before South Korea was to host the Olympics. All 115 crew and passengers were killed when the plane exploded in mid-air over the Bay of Bengal.

Kim Hyon-hui was sentenced to death by a Seoul court, but received a presidential pardon in 1990.

Additional reporting by AP

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