Kim Jong Nam probe shoddy, say lawyers

Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong being escorted by Malaysian police after a court session for her trial at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. She was allegedly involved in the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, th
Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong being escorted by Malaysian police after a court session for her trial at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. She was allegedly involved in the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong being escorted by Malaysian police after a court session for her trial at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. She was allegedly involved in the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, th
Indonesian suspect Siti Aisyah being led out of court yesterday. Her lawyer said "the investigation was not only shoddy but was lopsided".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHAH ALAM • The investigation into the assassination of the North Korean leader's half-brother was "shoddy" and "lopsided", a Malaysian court heard yesterday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong allegedly killed Mr Kim Jong Nam by smearing toxic nerve agent VX on his face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last year, in a Cold War-style hit that shocked the world.

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

The women, in their 20s, have denied murdering Mr Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother as he waited for a flight to Macau. They face death by hanging if found guilty.

The trial, which began last year, resumed yesterday after a break since early April.

Aisyah's lawyer, Mr Gooi Soon Seng, made his final submission, telling the Shah Alam High Court that "the investigation was not only shoddy but was lopsided".

The charge was "vague", he added, and prosecutors had not proved his client applied the nerve agent to Mr Kim's face.

Mr Gooi also questioned why Aisyah had told friends and family so readily about the "prank".

He also said it was unusual that Aisyah did not suffer any symptoms from contact with VX.

Huong's lawyer, Mr Hisyam Teh Pok Teik, said in his submission that his client did not intend to cause the death of Mr Kim and did not know the liquid she applied to his face was dangerous.

Mr Hisyam said "the actual assassins are the North Koreans", and slammed the investigation as "shoddy" and "shameful".

Four North Koreans are accused of involvement in the murder, but fled the country immediately after the killing.

South Korea accused the North of masterminding the killing of Mr Kim, who had been living in exile after falling out of favour with the ruling family in Pyongyang.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'Kim Jong Nam probe shoddy, say lawyers'. Print Edition | Subscribe