Kim Jong-Nam murder suspects visit airport amid chaotic scenes
Kim Jong-Nam was waiting there to board a flight in February when he was poisoned with nerve agent in a brazen assassination that shocked the world.world Updated: Oct 24, 2017 21:27 IST
Two women on trial for murdering the North Korean leader’s half-brother visited the Malaysian airport where he was poisoned under heavy police guard Tuesday, with the exhausted suspects pushed around in wheelchairs and one bursting into tears.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, wearing bulletproof vests and in handcuffs, were brought to Kuala Lumpur International Airport as part of court proceedings along with the judge, defence lawyers and prosecutors.
About 200 police officers, many armed with rifles and wearing masks, were deployed at the budget terminal. Kim Jong-Nam was waiting there to board a flight in February when he was poisoned with nerve agent in a brazen assassination that shocked the world.
The visit, to give those involved in the case a better understanding of events on the day, took on an air of chaos as a huge pack of journalists pursued the women around the terminal and armed police tried to stop them getting too close.
The tour included stops at the departure hall where Kim was attacked, a clinic where he was taken afterwards and toilets visited by the suspects following the assault.
But about halfway round, Aisyah, 25, burst into tears while Huong, 29, also appeared unwell. Officials brought wheelchairs for the women and they were pushed around for the rest of the visit.
The women are accused of killing Kim on February 13 by rubbing the nerve agent VX on his face. The pair, who were arrested a few days after the assassination and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-Un.
They say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.
The assassination sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which is suspected of ordering the hit — an allegation Pyongyang denies.
Four other suspects still at large are accused in the charge sheet of committing the murder along with the women. They are not identified in the charge sheet but four North Koreans fled Malaysia on the day of the killing.
At the airport, the group was first taken to the check-in area where the women allegedly smeared the nerve agent on Kim’s face. He died an agonising death within 20 minutes of the attack with a chemical so deadly it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
The suspects were then taken to a cafe where Aisyah is accused of meeting a man identified in court as “Mr Chang”, who allegedly wiped a liquid on her hands before she carried out the attack.
The group wrapped up the tour with visits to the other key sites.
The trial, which started on October 2, had already been shown CCTV footage of the airport on the day of the attack. But Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said the tour was necessary to give everyone involved in the case a better understanding of what happened.
He said the defence team had requested the wheelchairs for the suspects.
“They had to wear bulletproof vests, it is heavy, we walked for three hours. Siti Aisyah and Doan were exhausted,” he said.
Their lawyers claim the women are scapegoats who were tricked into carrying out the murder. A witness has testified it was possible that the other suspects on the charge sheet could have administered the VX on Kim before he arrived at the airport.
Still, much evidence points to the women’s involvement. Traces of VX were found on their clothes and CCTV footage was viewed at the trial that shows Huong wiping something on a person’s face at the airport just days before the attack in an apparent practice run.
Chilling details have emerged during the proceedings. A witness testified that Kim suffered extensive organ damage — with his lungs and brain swelling — and CCTV footage showed him lying on a stretcher after he was assaulted.