Asia-Pacific

Kim Jong-nam assassination probe slammed as 'shoddy'

Kim Jong-nam was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017. Source: Inset: AAP

The two women accused of assassinating Kim Jong-nam have denied murdering him, but if found guilty they will face death by hanging.

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.

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (R) is escorted by Malaysian police for a court appearance with Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong.
Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (R) is escorted by Malaysian police for a court appearance with Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong.
AFP

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 began last year. It resumed Wednesday after taking a break in early April.

The women were escorted into court handcuffed and wearing bullet-proof 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.

Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel following her arrival at the Malaysian Chemistry Department.
Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police personnel following her arrival at the Malaysian Chemistry Department.
AFP

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. 

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.

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