Malaysia court to re­sume Kim Jong Nam mur­der trial on Jan. 7

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! - HAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian court on Wed­nes­day set Jan. 7 for two South­east Asian women charged with mur­der­ing the North Korean leader’s half brother to be­gin their de­fense, as their lawyers com­plained that some wit­nesses were un­reach­able.

SA High Court judge in Au­gust found there was enough ev­i­dence to in­fer that In­done­sian Siti Aisyah and Viet­namese Doan Thi Huong, along with four miss­ing North Korean sus­pects, had en­gaged in a “well-planned con­spir­acy” to kill Kim Jong Nam.

The women ap­peared somber but calm dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing. The trial had been due to re­sume Nov. 1 but was post­poned af­ter a de­fense lawyer fell ill.

Aisyah’s lawyers made a new ap­pli­ca­tion to the court to com­pel pros­e­cu­tors to pro­vide them with state­ments that eight wit­nesses had given to po­lice ear­lier.

Her lawyer, Ku­la­selvi San­drasegaram, said they were in­formed that one of the wit­nesses, the man who chauf­feured Kim to the air­port, had died while two In­done­sian women who were Aishah’s room­mates were be­lieved to have re­turned to their home­land. She said they have only man­aged to in­ter­view two of the wit­nesses of­fered by pros­e­cu­tors, while two oth­ers didn’t turn up for their ap­point­ments and couldn’t be con­tacted.

The wit­ness state­ments taken by po­lice are im­por­tant in “the in­ter­est of jus­tice” and to en­sure that what they say to de­fense lawyers is con­sis­tent with what they told po­lice, San­drasegaram told re­porters later.

Pros­e­cu­tor Iskan­dar Ah­mad said the po­lice in­ter­views are priv­i­leged state­ments and shouldn’t be made pub­lic.

Judge Azmi Ariffin said the court will make a de­ci­sion on the de­fense ap­pli­ca­tion on Dec. 14. He also set 10 days from Jan. 7 through Fe­bru­ary for Aishah’s de­fense and 14 days from March 11 through April for Huong.

The two are ac­cused of smear­ing VX nerve agent on Kim’s face in an air­port ter­mi­nal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. They have said they thought they were tak­ing part in a prank for a TV show. They are the only sus­pects in cus­tody. The four North Korean sus­pects fled the coun­try the same morn­ing Kim was killed.

Lawyers for Aisyah, 25, and Huong, 29, have told the judge they will tes­tify un­der oath in their de­fense.

They have said their clients were pawns in a po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tion with clear links to the North Korean Em­bassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prose­cu­tion failed to show the women had any in­ten­tion to kill. Their in­tent is key to con­clud­ing they are guilty of mur­der.

Malaysian of­fi­cials have never of­fi­cially ac­cused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politi­cized.

Kim was the el­dest son in the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of North Korea’s rul­ing fam­ily. He had been liv­ing abroad for years but could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s rule.

Mur­der car­ries a manda­tory sen­tence of hang­ing, but Malaysia’s gov­ern­ment plans to abol­ish the death penalty and has put all ex­e­cu­tions on hold un­til the laws are changed.

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