Kim Jong-nam murder-accused was ‘paid to fly to Macau’

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Indonesian Siti Aisyah who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader. reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A woman accused of poisoning the North Korean leader’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, at a Malaysian airport had been paid to fly to Macau, Kim’s home at the time, just days before the killing, her lawyer told a court yesterday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah is accused with Doan Thi Huong, from Vietnam, of murdering Kim by smearing his face with liquid VX. Defence lawyers say the women thought they were playing pranks for a reality TV show. They face the death penalty if convicted.

On February 8 last year,Ms Aisyah had been given 4,000 ringgit ($1,020) by Hong Song-hac, a North Korean, to buy tickets to Macau so that she could play pranks for a reality TV show, her lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, said. But Mr Hong called her later that day to tell her that the trip was off. Kim had arrived in Malaysia two days earlier.

Lead police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz could not confirm Mr Gooi’s account but said text message records taken from Siti Aisyah’s mobile phone on February 8 showed her telling a friend that she was going to Macau for “shooting”.She later received five missed calls from Hong before picking up on the sixth, phone records showed.

Ms Aisyah told police she was introduced to Mr Hong on January 21, 2017, in Cambodia by another North Korean man named Ri Ji U, who had earlier hired her for a prank show. She told police she played three pranks at Phnom Penh airport before flying to Jakarta and then back to Malaysia in early February, Mr Wan Azirul said.

In Kuala Lumpur, she played 14 pranks at airports, hotels, shopping malls and a train station and was paid between $100-$600 for each session, he said. Mr Gooi said posts on Ms Aisyah’s Facebook account and text messages she exchanged with friends, including one who teased her about being “a cute comedienne”, corroborated her version of events.

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