KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Kim Jong Nam, the poisoned half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, told a friend in Malaysia his life was in danger six months before he was killed, a police official told a court yesterday.
Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, have been charged with murdering Kim by smearing his face with VX, a banned chemical poison, at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 last year. Four North Korean fugitives have also been charged with murder.
Defence lawyers say the women thought they were playing a prank for a reality show, as they had been paid to do elsewhere and did not know they were poisoning Kim. They face the death penalty if convicted.
Kim arrived in Malaysia on Feb. 6 last year and was picked up at the airport by the driver of friend Tomie Yoshio, lead police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz said. The driver was instructed to take Kim to his lodgings and other places he wanted to go after Kim told Yoshio his “life was in danger” during a prior visit to Malaysia.
“Six months before the incident on Feb. 13, Kim Jong Nam said ‘I am scared for my life and I want a driver’,” Wan Azirul said. He did not give any other details about Yoshio or his whereabouts.
Gooi Soon Seng, Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, has argued the killing was politically motivated, with key suspects linked to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Kim had criticised his family’s dynastic rule of North Korea, South Korean officials have said. The trial resumes on March 14.