Women suspected in Kim Jong-nam killing are charged

NY Times News Service, KUALA LUMPUR

Thu, Mar 02, 2017 - Page 6

Two women were charged with murder in a Kuala Lumpur court yesterday in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Siti Aisyah, 25, of Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, of Vietnam, could receive the death penalty. Police said the two women rubbed a deadly nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam’s face as he prepared to check in for a flight at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the morning of Feb. 13.

The women were charged as North Korea began a diplomatic effort to repair the damage from the killing, sending delegations to Beijing and Kuala Lumpur in a rare bit of outreach by the reclusive nation as it faced accusations that it had carried out the brazen assassination.

The delegation to Beijing was led by North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Gil-song, the Korean Central News Agency said, which did not provide further details.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Ri was visiting at its invitation and would meet with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅).

Ri is the most senior North Korean official to visit Beijing since a delegation met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in May last year.

The two women charged in Kim Jong-nam’s murder were arrested soon after the Feb. 13 attack and have said they thought they were participating in a prank.

Police have also arrested a North Korean man, Ri Jong-chol, and are seeking seven other suspects in the murder.

South Korean officials have accused the North Korean government of ordering the assassination.

There was no word yet on whether Malaysian officials would charge Ri Jong-chol in the attack.