2 Oct 2017

Kim Jong-nam death: Women plead not guilty

5:50 pm on 2 October 2017

Two women have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, at the start of their trial in Malaysia.

Doan Thi Huong, left, and Siti Aisyah have said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank.

Doan Thi Huong, left, and Siti Aisyah have said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank. Photo: Handout / Royal Malaysian Police / AFP

Mr Kim died in February at Kuala Lumpur's airport in a mysterious case that has gripped the world.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, are accused of rubbing the highly toxic nerve agent VX on his face.

But the women have claimed North Korean agents tricked them into doing it.

Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the death.

With their heads bowed, the women walked past a horde of journalists gathered outside the court in Shah Alam, outside of Kuala Lumpur, on Monday morning.

The suspects were in handcuffs and wearing bullet-proof vests, reported AFP news agency.

After their charges were read to them in court in Indonesian and Vietnamese, the two women entered their pleas through interpreters.

Mr Kim, who was in his mid-40s, was the estranged older half-brother of leader Kim Jong-un, and had been living overseas at the time of his death.

CCTV cameras captured the two women accosting him at Kuala Lumpur's airport on the morning of 13 February and rubbing their hands on his face. He immediately sought help from airport staff, but collapsed and died minutes later.

Malaysian authorities conducted an autopsy and announced he died after coming into contact with VX, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

The two women were arrested by Malaysian police days after his death. They insist they thought it was all just a TV prank.

Their defence lawyers have said they will argue that the real culprits have left Malaysia.

Malaysia named several North Koreans, who fled the country shortly after the killing, in connection to the case.

The incident led to a diplomatic row and a severe strain in ties between the two countries, which expelled each other's ambassadors.


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