24 Oct 2017

Suspects in bulletproof vests revisit crime scene

8:54 pm on 24 October 2017

Handcuffed, wearing bulletproof vests and under heavily armed guard, the two women accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korea's leader were pushed around a Malaysian airport in wheelchairs on Tuesday during a court visit to the crime scene.

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: AFP / MOHD RASFAN

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical nerve agent, at Kuala Lumpur's budget international terminal on 13 February. They have pleaded not guilty.

The two women were brought back to the scene as part of an entourage of court officials, led by trial judge Azmi Ariffin and accompanied by over 100 police officers and dozens of journalists, on a visit to retrace the events that unfolded before, during and after Kim Jong Nam's death.

Defence lawyers requested the visit after video recordings of the women on airport closed-circuit television were screened in court.

The site visit covered various locations in the terminal shown in the videos, such as a restuarant where Siti Aisyah was seen meeting an unidentified man, the toilets where police witnesses said both women had gone to after the attack on Kim Jong Nam, the clinic where the victim sought medical aid and the taxi stands where both suspects were seen at after the attack.

Huong appeared unwell midway through the site visit while Siti Aisyah broke down in tears.

Both women were then provided wheelchairs.

Recordings show Huong approaching Kim and grasping his face from behind near the airport's check-in counters before quickly leaving. Siti Aisyah could not be seen during the attack but was identified by a police witness as a figure running in another direction.

The videos also show the women heading to separate bathrooms to wash their hands.

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

Both women were seen meeting two men, identified only as Mr Chang and Mr Y, before the attack. According to police, the men had applied liquid on the women's hands, and were among four suspects-at-large charged together with the women for the murder.

The airport visit comes as the high-profile trial entered its third week.

Twelve witnesses have testified so far.

Forensic and chemical weapons experts said Kim Jong Nam had died of nerve agent poisoning, and that VX had been found on Siti Aisyah and Huong's clothes. Traces of the poison were also found under Huong's fingernails.

Prosecutors say Siti Aisyah and Huong conspired with four others who are still at large to kill Kim Jong Nam.

Kim Jong-nam, left, and Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-nam, left, and Kim Jong-un Photo: AFP

Defence lawyers have argued the women did not know that they were handling poison and that they thought they had been involved in a prank for a reality TV show.

South Korean and US officials have said that Kim Jong Un's regime was behind his half-brother's death.

Kim Jong Nam, who was living in exile in Macau, had criticised his family's dynastic rule of North Korea and his brother had ordered his execution, according to some South Korean lawmakers.

- Reuters

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