- 2 women caught on security camera footage attacking Kim Jong-nam have been charged with the North Korean’s murder
- Defendants were brought to court under utmost security measures out of fears someone might attempt to ‘silence’ them
- Defendants maintain they are innocent and were hired for a ‘prank’ but police disagree
- A North Korean delegation arrived in Malaysia to demand the release of a North Korean suspect as well as Kim Jong-nam’s body
The two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, who had been arrested by Malaysia’s police for the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, have officially been charged with his murder.
Kim Jong-nam was killed on February 13 by the two women, who smeared a liquid on his face while he was at the Kuala Lumpur international airport waiting for a flight to Macau, his place of residence.
In Bullet-proof Vests
25-year-old Indonesian Siti Aisyah and 28-year-old Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong were brought to court in Sepang, Malaysia, on Wednesday, Free Malaysia Today reported.
They were handcuffed and wearing bullet-proof vests as a precaution, with the Malaysian authorities fearing the defendants could be targeted so as to preclude the investigation.
They were charged under Section 302 of Malaysia‘s Penal Code with the murder of Kim Chol, the name given on the passport issued to Kim Jong-nam.
“She denied. She denied. She said ‘I’m innocent’,” Selvam Shanmugam, Huong’s lawyer told reporters outside the court, as cited by Reuters.
“Of course, she’s definitely distressed because she is facing death penalty,” he added.
Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong have told Indonesian and Vietnamese diplomats who visited them in the police station where they were held that they were just pawns in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.
They maintain that they had been hired for a “reality show prank” with what seemed like baby oil. Siti Aisyas claimed she was paid about USD 90 for the “prank”.
Both women were caught on CCTV footage assaulting Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur Airport, and then leaving. However, according to the Malaysian police, the defendants washed their hands after the attack meaning that they had been aware that the substance used was toxic.
The Vietnamese woman was caught 48 hours after the murder in the same airport terminal where it was committed, whereas the Indonesian suspect was arrested a day later. She was also said to have suffered from the effects of the VX nerve agent used against Kim Jong-nam, by vomiting while she was in custody.
The Malaysian police still hold in custody one North Korean suspect, Ri Jong Chol, while seven other North Koreans are wanted, including 44-year-old diplomat Hyon Kwang Song and Kim Uk-il, 37, an Air Koryo state airline official.
Another one, a 30-year-old male named Ri Ji U, is also wanted, while four others are known to have left Malaysia, and are possibly in Pyongyang.
According to US officials and South Korean intelligence services, the murder was orchestrated by North Korean intelligence operatives.
In the first official reaction of the North Korean regime to the Kim Jong-nam case last week, it blamed Malaysia of conspiring with South Korea for the murder of its “citizen”, without recognizing that the assassinated man is the North Korean leader‘s elder half-brother.
Malaysia has refused to give Kim Jong-nam’s body to the North Korean Embassy saying it could only be claimed by a relative, whereas through its official news agency, KCNA, the Kim Jong-un regime has accused Malaysia of violating international law by performing autopsies on the body of a man holding a diplomatic passport.
As the diplomatic conflict continued to deepen, a high-ranking North Korean delegation arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday to negotiate for the release of the detained North Korean, and for receiving Kim Jong-nam’s body.
Malaysia is yet to decide what to do with the body, according to Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam since no relative has claimed it yet.
Speaking at a UN conference in Geneva on Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un was unpredictable, and that in addition to its nuclear weapons, it had thousands of metric tons of deadly chemical weapons of mass destruction such as the VX nerve agent used on Kim Jong-nam.