March 02, 2017 09:24
Two Southeast Asian women were charged with first-degree murder in Malaysia on Wednesday in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah (25) and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (29) appeared in court in bullet-proof vests accused of smearing Kim with VX nerve agent, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.
Security was tight around the court with commandos standing guard armed with submachine guns and assault rifles. The hearing lasted about an hour with Vietnamese and Indonesian interpreters on hand. At the request of Malaysian police the trial was held behind closed doors.
If convicted, the two women could face the death sentence, but a fierce court battle is expected since the women claim they were duped and four North Korean suspected of orchestrating the hit have fled back to the North.
Meanwhile, a high-level North Korean delegation sent to Malaysia on Tuesday in a bid to resolve a tense diplomatic standoff remained in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, and no Malaysian Foreign Ministry official was seen entering to meet them.
The North Korean delegation in a press conference Tuesday demanded Malaysian authorities hand over the body of Kim Jong-nam as well as Ri Jong-chol, a North Korean held in connection with the hit. The delegation, headed by a former deputy envoy to the UN, apparently made the same demands in a meeting with Malaysian government officials.
Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam told reporters on Wednesday that the meeting did take place but he took no part.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his country's laws must be respected and stressed that his government can consider North Korea's requests only after the investigation has been completed.
Hamidi added that Malaysia is willing to share autopsy and DNA results, chemical test data and airport surveillance camera footage with foreign intelligence agencies.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com