Kim Jong Nam murder case goes to trial


Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong, 29, from Vietnam, are accused of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing nerve agent VX on his face at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, 2017.

Lawyers acting for the Vietnamese accused in North Korean Kim Jong Nam's murder case say foreign witnesses are important in her trial.

He said he "cannot rule out that this could be a political assassination" but found no concrete evidence of one.

But describing the murder as something out of a James Bond movie, state prosecutors argued the pair were well-trained assassins who knew exactly what they were doing.

If found guilty, the Aisyah and Doan could face the death penalty.

The judge said it was plausible that Doan may have not known that she had VX on her hands, but said the fact that she rushed to the bathroom after being caught on camera smearing Kim Jong Nam's face was "very unusual".

The women arrived at the court in Sham Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, under heavy police guard and wearing bulletproof vests, and were ushered past a pack of waiting journalists.

"I think we would like to look positively at the change in the attitude of North Korea", Malaysia's premier said in an interview with Kyodo News, in which he called Kim's killing a "simple case of murder".

After the ruling, a weeping Siti Aisyah was comforted by her lawyers and officials of the Indonesian embassy.

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However, Azmi said he was not persuaded by the defense argument, since there was no hidden crew and no attempt to bring the target in on the joke, as is usual in such shows.

"I therefore call upon them to enter their defense", the judge said after reading his ruling for more than two hours.

The proceedings on Thursday could have ended with the court ordering the release of 25-year-old Indonesian citizen, Siti Aisyah, and Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong, who is 28.

The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary that inter-Korean relations can hardly move forward in the interests of the Korean people if sanctions pressure from foreign forces is blindly supported and followed by the South.

An autopsy reveals Kim died from exposure to the VX nerve agent, an artificial chemical so deadly it is banned under worldwide treaty and classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

The women said they didn't know they were administering a lethal substance.

Four other North Korean men were jointly charged with them, but they left the country before they could be detained.

The Kremlin has sent a message to North Korea, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to meet with Kim Jong-un soon and discuss three-way projects with both Koreas. Frustrated Malaysian police said they believed he was involved in the plot but lacked evidence to prove it.

The court ruled to continue the prosecution of two women accused of murdering Kim in Malaysia in 2017.