Two women on trial for murdering the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visited the Malaysian airport where he was poisoned under heavy police guard on Tuesday, with the 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, were deployed.
Kim Jong-Nam was about to board a flight on February 13 from the airport when he was poisoned with nerve agent. 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.
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. The chemical is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. The suspects were then taken to a cafe where Aisyah met a man identified in court as “Mr Chang”, who allegedly wiped a liquid on her hands before she carried out the attack. 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, who were arrested a few days after the assassination and face death by hanging if convicted, have pleaded not guilty. They say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.
The assassination had sparked a fierce row between Malaysia and North Korea, which is suspected of ordering the attack – an allegation Pyongyang denied. Four other North Korean suspects are still at large.
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. “They had to wear bulletproof vests, it is heavy, we walked for three hours. Siti Aisyah and Doan were exhausted,” he said. Their lawyers claimed the women were 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 showed Huong wiping something on a person’s face at the airport just days before the attack in an apparent practice run.