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Kim Jong-nam

Malaysian judge denies Indonesian defendant’s request for police witness statements in Kim Jong-nam murder trial

  • Siti Aisyah and her Vietnamese co-defendant Doan Thi Huong are accused of smearing nerve agent on the fact of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 9:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 9:40pm

An Indonesian woman set to begin her defence next month in a trial for the murder in Malaysia of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother suffered a setback on Tuesday when a judge rejected her bid to secure statements given to police by seven witnesses.

Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, said he will appeal the High Court’s ruling that the statements were privileged. He said the statements were crucial because most of the witnesses were unreachable.

In August, a High Court judge found there was enough evidence to infer that Aisyah and her Vietnamese co-defendant, Doan Thi Huong, along with four missing North Korean suspects, had engaged in a “well-planned conspiracy” to kill Kim Jong-nam.

The two young women are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim’s face in an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13, 2017. They have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a television show. They are the only suspects in custody. The four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.

Trained assassins or innocent pawns duped by North Korean agents?

Aisyah was due to begin testifying on January 7, but Gooi said there will be a delay pending the appeal.

He said one of the witnesses, the man who chauffeured Kim to the airport, had died. He said they have managed to interview only two of the seven witnesses offered by prosecutors, while the others could not be contacted. As such, what they had told police could help provide a clearer picture of Kim’s death, he said.

In his ruling on Tuesday, the judge agreed with prosecutors’ contention that the statements should not be made public because there is a risk of tampering with witnesses. The judge said, however, that prosecutors are required to ensure that the witnesses turn up for the trial.

The court did not set any new trial dates.