Friday, September 24, 2021

Kim Jong Nam murder not a prank

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The assassination of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader was not a prank, Malaysian state prosecutors said Thursday, 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.

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

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

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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.

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 Wednesday after a break since early April, with lawyers from both sides making their final submissions.

‘Denied fair trial’
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”.

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

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

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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.

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.

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

Judge Azmi Ariffin said he would deliver a decision on August 16 on whether the women would be acquitted or called to the stand to defend themselves.

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.

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