March 23, 2018

Trial dates fixed for Jong-nam's accused murderers

30 July 2017, 01:25 | Marta Robbins

Malaysia will begin on Oct 2 the trial of two women accused of the dramatic killing of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, the High Court said yesterday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of rubbing highly toxic VX nerve agent in the face of Kim Jong-Nam as he waited to board a plane at Kuala Lumpur's main airport in February.

The prosecutors had earlier requested the Malaysian court to try both the women jointly on grounds that the incident took place at the same time and place.

He said the defence has to engage expert opinion to establish if this meant that the poison used was VX or some other chemical, as he analysed the evidence on Friday.

The women, who face the death penalty if convicted, have said they were duped into thinking that they were taking part in harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show.

The murder - which took place as Kim Jong-Nam was about to board a flight to Macau - sparked a serious diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea, with Kuala Lumpur expelling the North's ambassador and Pyongyang banning Malaysians from leaving the country.

The plea from both accused would be recorded on October 2. During a court hearing Friday in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur, the prosecution turned over 33 documents to the defense, including post-mortem and toxicology reports.

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"VX is supposed to be a very potent agent and even 0.1 milliliters is enough to kill a person, but we can say there have been no side effects on the two women", he said after both women appeared in court on Friday.

The women appeared in court wearing traditional Malay dresses, smiling at their lawyers and embassy officials. "We have written to the police for five more recordings", he said.

"One of the CCTV recordings showed Siti playing a prank". "Definitely, they are not guilty", Huong's counsel said. The women's legal teams had previously complained that they were not provided with key materials which would allow them to mount a proper defence.

Pyongyang has denied that it was behind the attack, saying South Korea and the United States were mounting a campaign to discredit it.

In late January, Aisyah flew to Cambodia where James introduced her to Hong Song Hac, one of four North Korean suspects who left Malaysia on the day of the killing. Aisyah's lawyers have called the case a "trial by ambush", claiming that the prosecution had withheld evidence that could strengthen their client's defense.

Meanwhile, North Korea is expected to soon test another ICBM, ABC News reported.

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