Women accused of Kim Jong Nam's murder in court

Siti Aisyah (above) and Doan Thi Huong claimed they were hired as part of a television show prank.
Siti Aisyah (above) and Doan Thi Huong claimed they were hired as part of a television show prank.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Siti Aisyah (above) and Doan Thi Huong claimed they were hired as part of a television show prank.
Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong (above) claimed they were hired as part of a television show prank.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Two women who were charged with the murder of North Korea's Mr Kim Jong Nam appeared in public yesterday for a third court appearance amid heavy police presence, as their court case was transferred to the Malaysian High Court.

The widely watched case had been twice delayed due to the prosecution's request for evidence and document compilation.

Mr Kim, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13 while waiting for his departing flight to Macau.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are charged with the murder. They face the death penalty if convicted.

The case was yesterday moved from a magistrate's court to the Shah Alam High Court in Selangor, with the upper court to fix a date for case management before proceeding to trial.

At their court appearance yesterday in Sepang, both female suspects appeared dressed in the same attire as their last public appearance last month.

Their lawyers had argued for materials to be shared in preparation for defence but have yet to receive any response from the authorities.

Siti Aisyah's lawyer, Mr Gooi Soon Seng, told the court: "The failure to disclose material documents to the defence at the earliest opportunity will undermine the defence's case in many ways."

Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said all materials will be supplied to the defence before commencement of the trial. "The proper way should be before the trial at the High Court, not here," said Mr Iskandar.

Lawyer Jagjit Singh was present yesterday to hold a watching brief for North Korea. "All I do is report to the embassy," he told reporters.

The case sparked international furore over the motive behind Mr Kim's murder and its method - allegedly via a poisonous nerve agent applied by the two women. Both women had claimed that they were hired by unknown men as part of a television show prank.

The Indonesian High Commission's councillor, Mr Yusron Ambry, said yesterday that Siti Aisyah had requested in a letter she wrote last week that her family not visit her.

"Pray for me that this case will be over soon and I'll be home soon," she wrote in a letter, shown by Mr Yusron.

Mr Kim's body was sent to North Korea after it was not claimed by his immediate family members.

The murder soured ties between Malaysia and North Korea.

VIDEO: Murder case moves to a higher court str.sg/4L3S

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Women accused of Kim Jong Nam's murder in court'. Print Edition | Subscribe