Kim Jong Nam murder not a prank: Prosecutors

Kim Jong Nam murder not a prank: Prosecutors
PHOTO: AFP

SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA - The assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was not a prank, Malaysian state prosecutors said on Thursday (June 28), insisting it was a "carefully planned and executed" murder using a UN-banned poison.

Prosecutors dismissed the defence case that the two women defendants 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.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing the toxic nerve agent VX on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport last year in a Cold War-style hit that shocked the world.

VX is so deadly that it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. Kim died within minutes.

Kim Jong-nam murder trial: 2 women plead not guilty

  • Open gallery

    Indonesian Siti Aisyah who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, is escorted as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 3, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, is escorted as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 3, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah who are on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, are escorted as they leave the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 3, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a banned nerve agent pleaded not guilty at the start of a high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court

  • Open gallery

    Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison banned by the United Nations, at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on Feb. 13.

  • Open gallery

    Both women wore bullet-proof vest as they were led into the court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital. They face the death penalty if convicted.

  • Open gallery

    The women have pleaded not guilty, saying they thought they were involved in some sort of prank for a reality TV show.

  • Open gallery

    Police cars transporting Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who are accused of killing Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, arrive at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 2, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Journalists wait to enter the Shah Alam High Court, where Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 2, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana speaks to journalists at the Shah Alam High Court, where Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 2, 2017.

  • Open gallery

    Hisyam Teh Toh Teik, one of the lawyers for Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong, speaks to journalists during a break in the trial for Huong and Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur on October 2, 2017, for their alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

  • Open gallery

    Hisyam Teh Toh Teik, Salim Bashir and Naran Singh, lawyers for Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong, speak to journalists during a break in the trial for Huong and Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah, at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur on October 2, 2017, for their alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

  • Open gallery

    Gooi Soon Seng, a lawyer for Indonesian defendant Siti Aisyah, walks out during a break in the trial of Aisyah and Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur on October 2, 2017, for their alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

"It is an assassination, where the murder was carefully planned and executed," prosecutors said in a written submission, adding that the women has been "trained" to ensure success.

They said the women "used criminal force" to attack Kim.

"The element of aggressiveness was present and this alone should have negated the existence of a prank," they said.

Also read: Kim Jong Nam murder probe slammed as 'shoddy' as trial in Malaysia resumes

They noted pranks involve the "element of humour", but the video evidence showed the accused were not laughing during and after the attack.

Prosecutors added, "It was not a prank and they knew what they were doing".

The women, in their 20s, deny murdering Kim. They face death by hanging if found guilty.

The trial, which began last year, resumed on Wednesday after a break since early April, with lawyers from both sides making their final submissions.

Aisyah's lawyer Gooi Soon Seng in his submission told the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, that the investigation into the assassination "was not only shoddy but was lopsided".

He added that the charge was "vague" and the prosecution "has failed to make out a prima facie case against" his client.

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

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

Also read: Kim Jong Nam murder suspect thought hit was a prank: Lawyer

Mr Hisyam said the prosecution had "failed miserably" in presenting their case, adding that "the actual assassins are the North Koreans" and that his client had been "denied a fair trial".

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

Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin likened the killing to a James Bond movie as it involved trained women assassins.

"Looking at the bigger picture, the four North Koreans still at large must have trained the two accused in executing the plan," he said.

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

The assassination also sparked a row between North Korea and Malaysia, which had historically been one of Pyongyang's few allies.

However, ties appear to be improving, with the new Malaysian government announcing plans to reopen its embassy in Pyongyang, as tension on the Korean peninsula ease.

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.