Women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam pushed in wheelchairs for Malaysia airport crime scene tour as trial takes physical toll
The judge followed the path Kim Jong-nam walked to the airport clinic, seeking help after being attacked, and retraced the movement of the two women accused of his murder
Two women on trial for murdering the North Korean leader’s half-brother have visited the Malaysian airport where they allegedly poisoned him, escorted by huge numbers of heavily armed police on Tuesday.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, wearing bulletproof vests, were brought to Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s budget terminal along with the judge in the case, defence lawyers and prosecutors.
About 200 police, many armed with rifles and wearing masks, fanned out as the entourage arrived at the terminal, where a huge pack of journalists was waiting.
The visit was aimed at giving the judge and others involved in the case a better idea of how events unfolded on the day of the murder, according to lawyers. Such crime scene visits often take place in Malaysian criminal trials.
Huong, 29, and Aisyah, 25, are accused of killing Kim Jong-nam on February 13 by rubbing the nerve agent VX on his face in a cold war-style hit that stunned the world.
The women, who were arrested a few days after the assassination and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un.
The assassination sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which the South says ordered the hit, an allegation Pyongyang denies.
However, four other unidentified suspects still at large are accused in the charge sheet of committing the murder with the women.
Four North Koreans fled Malaysia on the day of the killing.
At the airport, the group was first taken to the check-in area where they allegedly smeared the nerve agent in Kim’s face.
He died an agonising death within 20 minutes of the attack with a chemical so deadly it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
The suspects were then taken to a cafe called Bibik Heritage, where Aisyah met a man identified in court as “Mr Chang” who allegedly wiped a liquid on her hands before she carried out the attack.
The group headed to the clinic where Kim was taken after the attack and then to a taxi rank, where the women went after the alleged murder. They also visited a toilet where one of the women had headed after the attack, and walked through a shopping area.
Aisyah was seen sobbing quietly about an hour into the tour of the crime scene Tuesday morning. She and the Vietnamese suspect were given water to drink and when the tour resumed, both were being pushed around in wheelchairs.
Prosecutor Mohamad Fairuz Johari said Aisyah had difficulty breathing, probably due to the heavy bulletproof vest she wore.
The prosecutor said the group had traced the routes taken by Huong, Aisyah and Kim on the day of the murder.
Gooi Soon Seng, a lawyer for Aisyah, said that “the purpose of the visit was to better understand how it (the killing) happened”.
Their lawyers claim they are scapegoats who were tricked into carrying out the murder and a witness has testified it was possible that the other suspects on the charge sheet could have administered the VX on Kim before he arrived at the airport.
Experts have been confounded by how Aisyah and Huong could have attacked Kim with such a deadly poison without causing any harm to themselves.
Still much evidence points to the women’s involvement.
Traces of VX were found on their clothes and CCTV footage was viewed at the trial that shows Huong wiping something on a person’s face at the airport just days before the attack in an apparent practice run.
Chilling details have emerged during the proceedings. A witness testified that Kim suffered extensive organ damage – with his lungs and brain swelling – and CCTV footage showed Kim lying on a stretcher after he was assaulted.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press