Women accused of killing North Korean leader′s half-brother appear in Malaysian court | News | DW | 13.04.2017
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Women accused of killing North Korean leader's half-brother appear in Malaysian court

The two suspects have been charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam and face death by hanging if convicted. However, the women maintain they were unknowing pawns in a deadly case of political intrigue.

The two women accused of murdering the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un arrived at a heavily guarded courthouse in the Sepang district on Thursday morning wearing bullet-proof vests.

It was the second court appearance for the suspects, Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, and Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesia, but not the last one as the hearing was postponed until late May. The prosecution team requested that the case be transferred to a higher court and the women be jointly tried for murder.

If convicted, the two will face death by hanging.

The suspects stand accused of assassinating Kim Jong-Nam in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 by smearing his face with VX, a toxic nerve agent that the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction.

Kim Jong Nam (picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Kambayashi)

Kim Jong Nam had lived in de facto exile from North Korea for many years

Both women have attested their innocence and claimed they were told they were taking part in a prank show.

Prosecutors charged them on March 1 alongside four men who Malaysian authorities identified as North Koreans. The men reportedly fled Malaysia to Pyongyang the same day as the attack.

Three other persons initially of interest, including a North Korean diplomat, were subsequently released. 

High political stakes

The murder escalated tensions between the Korean Peninsula's northern and southern neighbors, with South Korea accusing the North of a planned assassination and Pyongyang countering that Malaysia acted in collusion with South Korea to kill the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader. 

Both countries issued travel bans on one another's citizens and withdrew their respective ambassadors.

The travel ban was lifted in March after the two nations reached an agreement allowing Kim's body to be flown back to Pyongyang and permitting the release of Malaysian citizens held in the North Korean capital.

cmb/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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