Wednesday 21 March 2018

Kim Jong Nam met Korean American before his murder, court told

Two women deny killing Kim Jong Un’s half-brother by smearing nerve agent on his face in Kuala Lumpur.

Doan Thi Huong arrives for court hearing at Shah Alam court house (AP)
Doan Thi Huong arrives for court hearing at Shah Alam court house (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

A police witness has said the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader met an unidentified Korean American man on a Malaysian resort island four days before he was murdered, as the trial of two women accused of killing him resumed.

Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnam’s Doan Thi Huong, 29, are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur last February.

They denied murder when their trial began in Shah Alam on October 2. The two are the only suspects in custody, though prosecutors have said four North Koreans who fled the country were also involved.

Chief police investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz told the court on Monday that Mr Kim flew from Macau to Kuala Lumpur last February 6 and travelled to the northern island of Langkawi two days later.

Siti Aisyah also denies murder (AP)

He said Mr Kim met with a Korean American at a Langkawi hotel the next day, but he did not know the man’s identity and it was not related to the 138,000 US dollars (£97,400) in cash found in Mr Kim’s backpack when he was murdered.

Mr Wah Azirul was responding to questions from Gooi Soon Seng, Aisyah’s lawyer, who asked him to confirm a report by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that, in Langkawi, Mr Kim met a US intelligence agent who was normally based in Bangkok.

“Until now, the identity of the man is not known,” Mr Wan Azirul told the court. He said he could not remember the hotel name or whether the room was registered under Mr Kim or the man, prompting a lashing from Mr Gooi for his “severe lapse of memory”.

There were reports that Mr Kim had met a US intelligence officer shortly before being killed (AP)

Mr Wan Azirul said an analysis of Mr Kim’s laptop showed it was last used on February 9. He said Mr Kim returned to Kuala Lumpur on February 12, a day before he was killed while waiting for a flight back to Macau.

The trial is to resume on Tuesday.

Mr Gooi has told reporters that Mr Kim’s killing was likely a political assassination because of involvement by the North Korean Embassy. A police witness has testified that a car used to take the North Korean suspects to the airport on the day of the murder belonged to the embassy. The court also heard that an embassy official met the suspects before they fled and facilitated their check-in at the airport.

If they are convicted, the two women could face the death penalty, but not if they lacked intent to kill. Defence lawyers say the women believed they were playing a prank for a hidden camera TV show. Prosecutors contend the women knew they were handling poison.

Press Association

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