Women plead not guilty to murdering North Korea leader's half-brother

Marsha Scott
October 3, 2017

Two women have pleaded not guilty to murdering Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, as their trial in Malaysia got under way.

The Vietnamese Thi Huong and the Indonesian Siti Aisyah is on trial for the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.

The girls were told that it was a TV prank, they said.

The charge sheet accuses the women of killing Kim with four others still at large, who are not named.

The incident led to a bitter diplomatic row and strained the once cordial ties between North Korea and Malaysia, which expelled each other's ambassadors.

Huong's family, who followed the start of the trial from Vietnam, said they felt powerless to help her but insisted they still believed she was innocent.

Malaysia secured its citizens' release in return for Kim's body and safe passage home for the North Korean citizens sought in relation to the murder.

Mr Kim, who was in his mid-40s, was the estranged older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Malaysian authorities conducted an autopsy and announced he died after coming into contact with VX, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. She said Kim told her "he was attacked from behind by two women", with one of them wiping something over his eyes.

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The two women nodded their heads when the charge was read out to them at the Shah Alam court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital.

An airport doctor testified that Kim died rapidly, with his blood pressure and pulse first soaring and then plunging.

The run-up to the trial has been marked by fierce criticism from the women's lawyers who say the accused are the fall guys in the case.

While pointing fingers at North Korea for Kim's death, Sathasivam said the dose of VX given to Kim was on the high side as he showed symptoms within minutes.

The prosecution said the intention was apparent as the accused smeared the victim's face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim.

The 29-year-old Vietnamese suspect, Huong, was caught on airport security surveillance cameras wearing a white sweatshirt emblazoned with the big black letters "LOL" - the acronym for "laughing out loud".

Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of carrying out the attack, speculation is rampant that Pyongyang orchestrated the hit on a long-exiled member of its ruling family.

The three North Koreans who had been hiding in the embassy were later allowed to fly home in exchange for nine Malaysians allowed to leave Pyongyang in a deal easing the countries' diplomatic tensions.

The trial is expected to run until 30 November, during which time over 40 witnesses are expected to be called upon.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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