Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian court on Thursday ruled that the evidence against two women accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korea’s leader is strong enough for the case to go to trial.
Kim Jong-nam died at the Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport in 2017 after a toxic VX nerve agent was rubbed on his face.
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, accused of smearing Kim Jong-nam’s face, could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder. The women pleaded not guilty and said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank show, the BBC reported.
In a statement, Judge Azmi Bin Ariffin of the High Court Shah Alam said: “I am satisfied that all the ingredients of the charge against the accused persons that need to be prove(n) has been established by the prosecution.”
He ruled that the actions of the two women, captured on security camera footage, were enough to infer that they had intended to kill him. The prosecution also maintained the argument that the pair were trained to commit the crime.
The Malaysian police pointed to four North Korean suspects — Ri Ji-hyon, Hong Song-hac, O Jong-gil and Ri Jae-nam — as the masterminds of the assassination and said that the group introduced themselves with other names and nationalities when they hired the pair.
Kim died on February 13, 2017, about half an hour after the two suspects approached him at the airport departure terminal, where he was going to take a flight to Macau.
Experts from the Malaysian chemical department identified the poison as a colourless and odourless chemical substance listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.
The deceased half-brother of Kim Jong-un was once considered the heir apparent to his father’s regime, but fell out of favour in 2001. He spent most of his time overseas in Macau, mainland China and Singapore.
He had spoken out in the past against his family’s dynastic control of North Korea and in a 2012 book was quoted as saying he believed his half-brother lacked leadership qualities.
North Korea has denied any involvement in the killing.
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