Judge orders women charged with killing N.Korean to enter defense

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Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, is escorted as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 16, 2018. Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A Malaysian judge yesterday ruled that a trial against two women charged with the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would continue, and asked them to enter their defense.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese, face the death penalty on charges of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a nerve agent banned by the United Nations, at a Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13 last year.

High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin said it can be inferred from evidence presented in court that there was a “well-planned conspiracy” between the two women and four North Korean suspects at large to kill Kim “systemically.”

He said he “cannot rule out that this could be a political assassination” but noted there was no concrete evidence to support this.

The judge the prosecution during the six-month trial so far had laid out enough evidence of the women’s guilt for the case against them to proceed.

He accepted the prosecution’s case that the women, in common intention with four individuals still at large, had caused the death of Kim Jong Nam. The four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

“I must therefore call upon them to enter their defense on their respective charges,” he said after reading his ruling for more than two hours.

According to the case presented so far, the four men known to Ms Aisyah and Ms Huong only by code names recruited and trained the two women to accost strangers in similar fashion to the day they attacked Mr Kim, and they provided the women with the banned chemical weapon that they smeared on his face.

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