Tue, Oct 03, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Kim murder trial opens in Malaysia

NOT GUILTY PLEAS:Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong wore bulletproof vests into the court. The prosecution portion of the trial is expected to last about two months

Reuters, KUALA LUMPUR

Two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with a banned nerve agent yesterday pleaded not guilty at the start of a high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong-nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the UN, at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb. 13.

Police have also named four North Koreans as suspects in the case and an Interpol red notice has been issued for the North Koreans, who remain at large.

Prosecutors said the four North Koreans helped the accused women carry out several practice runs in Kuala Lumpur shopping malls.

“The prank practice carried out by the first and second accused with the supervision of the four who are still at large was preparation to see through their common intention to kill the victim,” the prosecution said in its charge sheet.

Defense lawyers demanded that the prosecution immediately name the four other suspects, who have also been charged, so they could prepare their case, but judge Azmi Ariffin dismissed their request.

The two women wore bulletproof vests as they were led into the Shah Alam court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital. They face the death penalty if convicted.

The two women nodded their heads when the charges were read out to them by two interpreters. The interpreters said both women pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution said their actions showed “intent to kill the victim” by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim Jong-nam.

The women told their lawyers they did not know they were participating in a deadly attack and believed they were carrying out a prank for a reality TV show.

Juliana Idris, who works at the airport, told the court a man later identified as Kim Jong-nam approached her and asked her to take him to a police station.

He later went to the airport clinic, but died there within 20 minutes.

She said the man, who spoke English, told her he had been “attacked by a woman from behind ... another one closed his eyes.”

Police Lance Corporal Mohd Zulkarnain Sanudin, who was on duty at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the day of the killing, said Idris had brought Kim Jong-nam to him and Kim Jong-nam said that a substance had been wiped on his face.

Prosecutors are expected to lay out their case over two months and call 30 to 40 witnesses.

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