Defense Lawyer of Woman Accused of Kim Jong-nam's Murder Claims Innocence
The suspects of Kim Jong-nam’s assassination were escorted out the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on Wednesday. Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Hong, 29, are among the 4 suspected in the murder of the half brother of North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-nam died on February 13, after his face was smeared with a chemical agent VX by the two women. VX is a chemical weapon that is capable of mass destruction. UN International Chemical Weapons Convention treaty bans its signatories from possession.
The visit was made as a part of the court investigation in Malaysia. The defense lawyers of Aisyah and Hong requested the on-site investigation after the video recordings of the women were shown in court. It was an effort to identity the sites that appeared in the video.
South Korean and US officials believe the North Korean regime orchestrated the attack. As a half brother of Kim Jong-un, the victim was one of the candidates to succeed Kim Jong-il, the former supreme leader of North Korea.
He was known to speak publicly against the regime, however took an indifferent stance for his position as a potential successor. In 2010, he was living in exile and was quoted in Japan’s Asahi TV saying, “I hope my younger brother will do his best for the sake of North Koreans’ prosperous lives.”
The use of the chemical agent VX against the victim mirrors the regime’s method of using mass destruction weapons in executions. In 2015, ZPU-4 anti-aircraft guns were used to execute top officials of the regime.
Time reported that one of the defendants, Hong’s lawyer believes her to be innocent. The defense lawyers hold the claim that the women thought they were a part of a TV prank when they were given the instruction to smear poison by a man at the airport.
In March, the Malaysian government agreed to send three suspected North Korean nationals to Pyongyang with the body of the victim. In exchange, 9 Malaysian citizens who had been held as hostages by the regime were sent back.
One North Korean national was questioned by the Malaysian authority after the incident, but released due to the lack of evidence. Despite naming 8 North Koreans to be questioned, Aisyah and Hong are the only suspects taken into court.