Murder trial of North Korea's Kim Jong Nam extended to March next year

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (right) and Indonesian Siti Aishah (second from left) have been charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam.
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (right) and Indonesian Siti Aishah (second from left) have been charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's most watched trial involving the murder of the elder brother of North Korea's leader, has been extended beyond its original end-date of Nov 30.

The court hearing for the death of Kim Jong Nam, estranged brother of the regime's dictator Kim Jong Un, is slated to continue with the prosecution calling up witnesses from January to March next year.

Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, were charged with the murder alongside four still-at-large individuals.

Both women pleaded not guilty and maintained via their lawyers that they had been duped into what was supposedly a TV prank.

The prosecution had originally set trial dates for 23 days spanning two months, with 153 witnesses to be called to the stand. However, the court has thus far heard from only 18 witnesses.

The court did not provide reasons for adding new hearing dates.

Prosecution has called up several key witnesses to testify in the case, those who had direct contact with Mr Kim in the moments leading to his death. This includes the airport personnel that Mr Kim approached immediately after he was allegedly attacked with VX, a deadly nerve agent, and also the airport clinic's doctor who provided him with preliminary treatment before transferring him to a hospital.

Among other main witnesses who have testified were the chemist that confirmed the presence of VX in Mr Kim's body and on his belongings, the doctor who conducted the autopsy and the investigating officer in charge of the case.

The testimony by investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz lasted the longest, stretching over two weeks, with the defence to call him back at a later date for cross examination.

Mr Kim was awaiting his flight to Macau on Feb 13 in Kuala Lumpur's airport when he was approached by Siti and Doan separately smearing liquid on his face. He died two hours later. Both women were nabbed by police days later based on CCTV footage. Evidence submitted to court showed their clothes had traces of VX.

The trial will now last until March 22, 2018.

ltrinna@sph.com.sg