Kim Jong Nam murder trial: Suspects return to crime scene

The accused - Indonesian Siti Aisyah (front, second from right) and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (back, second from far left) - being escorted as they and the rest of the court visited the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 yesterday.
The accused - Indonesian Siti Aisyah (front, second from right) and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (back, second from far left) - being escorted as they and the rest of the court visited the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Over 200 police officers descended on Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday as those involved in the murder trial of Mr Kim Jong Nam visited the crime scene to retrace the steps taken by the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader and the two women suspected of killing him on Feb 13.

The entourage, comprising the judge, prosecutors, defence lawyers and the accused women, Siti Aisyah, 25 and Doan Thi Huong, 28, were heavily guarded by armed and masked police as investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz walked them through the routes taken by the deceased and the women at budget terminal KLIA2.

"Today's exercise is merely to see the actual location and which cameras recorded what footage," Siti's lawyer, Mr Gooi Soon Seng, told reporters.

Indonesian Siti had her head bowed most of the time, and began crying as she was escorted around the airport.

Vietnamese Doan looked exhausted, but turned to face the cameras when news photographers called out to her.

Both women, dressed in traditional baju kurung under bulletproof vests, were later placed in wheelchairs for the remainder of the three-hour walk.

Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said Siti had complained of shortness of breath, so he asked for the wheelchairs to be provided for the accused.

The duo are charged with killing Mr Kim, 45, the older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, by smearing lethal nerve agent VX on his face as he waited for his flight to Macau.

Witnesses had earlier testified at the trial that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the airport had allegedly captured the two women attacking Mr Kim with the chemical weapon.

Both women have pleaded not guilty, and claimed that they were tricked into carrying out the attack, which they thought was a prank for a reality TV show.

Defence lawyers had requested that Judge Azmi Ariffin allow a site visit to identify the location of the incident.

The entourage criss-crossed the airport three times, accompanied by more than 200 police officers who formed a human barricade around the group, with dozens of media personnel trailing behind.

Significant locations included the self check-in kiosks at the departure hall, where Mr Kim was attacked, the Bibik Heritage restaurant, where Siti was seen with an unidentified man prior to the attack, and the clinic where Mr Kim sought medical help before he collapsed.

Four other men, whom court documents describe as being "at large" are listed in the charge sheet as having the common intention to murder Mr Kim. In March, Malaysia issued an Interpol red alert for four North Korean men involved in Mr Kim's murder but it is not known if these are the same four men listed on the charge sheet.

The group was also shown the different toilets the women allegedly rushed to after the attack, where it is claimed they washed their hands to remove the toxic chemical VX, and the taxi stand from which both suspects were seen leaving the airport.

"We have to determine for ourselves the actual routes taken... It's first-hand knowledge rather than seeing it through the CCTV," said Mr Gooi.

One of Doan's trio of lawyers, Mr Salim Bashir, said: "We don't want to leave any stone unturned."

Yesterday was the ninth day of the trial, which resumes in Shah Alam High Court today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Kim Jong Nam murder trial: Suspects return to crime scene'. Print Edition | Subscribe