Accused killers of Kim Jong Nam to stand trial

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong-nam is escorted by police as she arrives at the Shah Alam High Court

Women on Trial in Kim Jong Nam Killing to Present Defense

Siti Aisyah is brought into court by Malaysian police officers. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Najjua Zulkefli, August 16, 2018.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam have said they were innocent victims of an elaborate North Korean plot.

Huong "could never be a killer as she had always been a charming, hard-working girl", Doan Van Thanh, the Vietnamese suspect's father, told AFP.

Prosecutors have argued that the women knew what they were doing and took part in an attack that was not only premeditated, but also practiced in advance.

Aisyah, 25, and Huong, 29, told the court they would testify under oath in their defense. Alternatively if he decides there isn't, he could clear the women or amend the charge to something less serious than murder, which carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia. They had insisted that prosecutors have not shown they meant to kill Kim, who had been living in exile for a decade since falling out of favour with the North's ruling family.

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"My gut is telling me the defence will be called", said the prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana, who was present in court, said his government respected the court's decision against Siti Aisyah.

"We still maintain the innocence of our client that she was duped into a prank and we are confident that she is able to withstand the cross-examination by the prosecution", he said. If they are acquitted, they may not be freed right away as prosecutors could appeal as well as push forward with separate charges for overstaying their visas.

"I affirm that I am ready to meet you at an early date to discuss urgent issues of bilateral relations and important matters of the region", he continued, while also wishing "Kim Jong Un good health and success and all the people of the DPRK happiness and wellbeing".

The Malaysian judge could not rule out the possibility of a "well-planned conspiracy" between the two women and several North Korean operatives still at large, suggesting the accused had a common intention to carry out the killing. Video recordings played in court showed them meeting the four fugitives at the airport before the attack.

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The trial has seen CCTV footage of Huong coming up behind Kim as he waited to check in for his flight to Macau, and clasping her hands on his face.

Two-way trade between Malaysia and North Korea was just US$4 million in 2016, according to official Malaysian figures.

Kim Chol is the alias used by Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, when he travelled.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, confirmed that the Russian president had sent the invitation to Mr Kim as part of a congratulatory telegram on the 73rd anniversary of North Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

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