The trial of two women for allegedly assassinating the half-brother of North Korea’s leader will resume in January instead of this month after a defence lawyer fell ill, a court heard Thursday.
Siti Aisyah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam are accused of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing nerve agent VX on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport, in a Cold War-style hit that shocked the world.
The pair went on trial in October last year, eight months after the killing, but proceedings have moved slowly due to the large number of witnesses, and the fact hearings are held relatively infrequently under the Malaysian court system.
After a judge ruled in August the prosecution case was strong enough for the trial to continue, it was scheduled to resume at the start of this month with Aisyah taking the stand to offer her defence.
But proceedings will now restart on January 7 after the Indonesian’s main lawyer Gooi Soon Seng fell ill, another member of her defence team, Kulaselvi Sandrasegaram, said after a hearing at the High Court in Shah Alam to set new dates.
On Thursday, Aisyah’s lawyers also urged the court to compel prosecutors to provide them with some statements taken from police to help in their case, and there will be a special session in December to rule on that request.
The women deny murder, claiming they were tricked into killing the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un by North Korean agents and believed they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.
But prosecutors, who likened the murder to the plot of a “James Bond” movie, have argued the pair were well-trained assassins who knew exactly what they were doing.
Under current laws, the women in their 20s will be sentenced to death by hanging if convicted of murder. However Malaysia’s new government has vowed to abolish capital punishment for all crimes.
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