Kim Jong Nam murder probe: Malaysian court charges two female suspects with murder

A North Korean man, identified as Ri Jong Chol, has not yet been charged.

Kim Jong Nam murder case
Indonesian Siti Aisyah arrives at a court in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this photo taken by Kyodo on March 1, 2017. Reuters

Malaysian court charged two female suspects in the alleged assassination of the man believed to be Kim Jong Nam with murder under section 302 of penal code on Wednesday.

The two suspects, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, appeared at a magistrate's court in Sepang. Four other North Korean nationals, who are at large after they fled Malaysia on Feb 13, were also charged along with the two female suspects.

Aisyah and Huong are both accused of attacking the North Korean at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13 by swiping a lethal nerve agent on his face. If convicted, they could face the death sentence.

According to reports, both of them have told diplomats from their respective countries that they had been paid to commit the crime what they apparently believed to be a prank for a reality television show.

As the two were presented at the court on Wednesday, there was heavy police presence outside the court with some 200 police officers reportedly on standby. Before the court proceedings started, Aisyah's lawyer Gooi Soon Seng expressed concerns over "pre-trial concerns" to the reporters.

The court has given a next date on April 13 and that day the prosecutors will apply for the accused to be tried jointly.

The charges against Aishah were read first in the court and it was followed by the charges against Huong. A North Korean man, who was arrested by the police, has not yet been charged. The police identified him as Ri Jong Chol.

Armanatha Nasir, the spokesman of Indonesia's foreign ministry, said in Jakarta that he hopes Aishah would receive a fair trial.

"We hope that the principle of a defendant being presumed innocent until proven guilty will be adhered to," Nasir said. "The lawyer that has been appointed will make the case for Siti and we hope that she gets a fair trial, afforded all her legal rights and not tried by the public," he added.

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 departure hall at about 9 am on 13 February. Malaysian police arrested both the women in the days after the attack. Huong, the Vietnamese woman, was detained 48 hours in the same airport. However, Indonesian woman, Aishah, was detained a day later.