Malaysia charges two women with Kim’s murder

Kuala Lumpur, March 1 (IANS) Two Asian women arrested on suspicion of assassinating the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were indicted here on Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, were officially charged with murder for allegedly smearing VX nerve agent, a banned chemical weapon, on the face of Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13. Kim was awaiting a flight to Macau.

Aisyah and Huong appeared at a court surrounded by dozens of armed police officers and hundreds of reporters. It was their first public appearance after they were arrested last month, Yonhap reported.

During the hour-long court procedure, both denied murdering the victim intentionally, saying they thought it was a prank, not an actual chemical attack.

The police and the prosecution, however, rebutted, saying the women rehearsed the attack and were aware of the toxicity of the substance they were handling.

The two suspects can be sentenced to death, if convicted of the allegations, according to the prosecutors. The next court date is April 13.

Prosecutors were also planning to indict Ri Jong-chol, a 46-year-old North Korean man arrested in connection with the case.

Malaysia has been demanding the repatriation of the four other suspects, who allegedly fled back to North Korea after the incident.

A former North Korean deputy ambassador to the UN, Ri Tong-il arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday, amid an escalating diplomatic row over the death, to request the country to hand over Kim’s body.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Tuesday addressed the assassination as an outright challenge to the international order and said it showed the inhuman nature of the North Korean regime.

“In order to stop North Korean leadership from further violating human rights, it is necessary to clarify who is responsible,” Yun said at a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in Geneva.

–IANS

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