Defence lawyer slams Malaysian police over Kim Jong Nam murder probe

Workers load steel in a workshop in Zouping, in China's eastern Shandong province on March 10, 2018.
Workers load steel in a workshop in Zouping, in China's eastern Shandong province on March 10, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

SHAH ALAM (AFP) - The Malaysian police's investigation into the murder of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother was "shoddy" and could lead to an unfair trial, a court heard on Wednesday (March 14).

Defence lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, on the 32nd day of the trial of suspects in the Cold War-style killing of Kim Jong Nam, sought to discredit the manner in which the police conducted their probe.

Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur's international airport in February last year (2017) while he was about the take a flight to Macau.

Two young women - Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong - are on trial for allegedly smearing the banned nerve agent VX on the face of Kim, who died in agony minutes later. Kim had been living in exile since a family fallout.

Defence lawyers have argued that the women were recruited to take part in what they thought were prank TV shows but were instead tricked into becoming inadvertent assassins, in an elaborate plot by a group of North Korean agents.

Gooi, questioning the case's chief police investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, said police failed to investigate certain evidence and denied him access to his client Aisyah during her initial 14-day detention.

The defence lawyer said that during Wednesday's hearing, police showed the court only bits and pieces of closed-circuit television footage of the murder which did not paint an accurate picture of what happened.

"I put it to you that your failure to copy all the footages from the CCTV server... had compromised the defence of Siti (Aisyah)," Gooi told Wan Azirul, who is being presented as a prosecution witness.

He also pointed out that video footage in the aftermath of the killing showed his client adjusting her sunglasses after the attack on Kim, contrary to a police report which said she was walking fast with her hands far apart.

This was important because if she had smeared VX on Kim's face using her hands, she would have also poisoned herself when when she touched her glasses, according to Gooi.

Aisyah's jeans and glasses were not sent for laboratory tests and the chemistry department tests showed that her finger nail cuttings, nail swabs and blood had no traces of VX, Gooi told the court.

"The failure to investigate certain evidence and not to allow lawyers access to Aisyah during her initial 14-day police detention have resulted in a lopsided and shoddy investigation," Gooi told AFP after the morning session.

"Aisyah now does not get a fair trial as her defence is compromised."

The brazen daylight assassination unleashed diplomatic shockwaves and widespread condemnation of North Korea. Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the case.