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Kim Jong-nam

Kim Jong-nam assassination probe slammed as ‘shoddy’ as trial nears end

Defence lawyers and prosecutors are expected to wrap up their closing arguments by Friday, after which the judge could take up to a month to make a ruling

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018, 3:33pm

The investigation into the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother was “shoddy” and “lopsided”, a Malaysian court heard Wednesday as the trial resumed of two women accused of the murder.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong allegedly killed Kim Jong-nam by smearing a toxic nerve agent on his face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last year in a cold war-style hit that shocked the world.

Defence lawyers have argued that the women were recruited to take part in what they thought were prank TV shows but were instead tricked into becoming inadvertent assassins, in an elaborate plot by a group of North Korean agents.

The women, in their 20s, have denied murdering Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother as he waited for a flight to Macau. They face death by hanging if found guilty.

The trial, which began last year, resumed Wednesday after a break since early April, with the women escorted into court handcuffed and wearing bulletproof vests.

Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng made his final submission, telling the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, that “the investigation was not only shoddy but was lopsided”.

The charge was “vague” and the prosecution “has failed to make out a prima facie case against the accused (Aisyah)”, he said.

Gooi argued prosecutors had not proven his client applied the VX nerve agent on Kim’s face and questioned why – if she really were the assassin – she had told friends and family so readily about the supposed TV pranks that she was involved in.

He also said it was unusual that Aisyah did not suffer any symptoms due to contact with VX, which the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction.

Four North Koreans are accused of involvement in the murder but fled the country immediately after the killing. Aisyah and Huong’s lawyers allege they paid the women to carry out what they believed were pranks for a reality TV show.

Huong’s lawyer was to make his closing argument later Wednesday.

South Korea accused the North of masterminding the killing of Kim Jong-nam, who had been living in exile after falling out of favour with the ruling family in Pyongyang.

The assassination also sparked a row between North Korea and Malaysia, which had historically been one of Pyongyang’s few allies. However ties appear to be improving, with the new Malaysian government announcing plans to reopen its embassy in Pyongyang.

Additional reporting by Associated Press