Malaysia Charges Two Women With Murder in Kim Jong Nam Death

  • Half-brother of North Korean leader killed last month
  • Preliminary report shows VX nerve agent used in murder

Malaysia charged two women with the murder of a North Korean believed to be the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The suspects -- one Vietnamese and the other Indonesian -- were charged with following through on the intent to murder a North Korean identified as Kim Chol, according to charge sheets read in a court near Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. They were accused of abetting in the murder along with four others who are still at large, the charge sheets showed.

Siti Aisyah

Photographer: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, face the death penalty under Section 302 of Malaysia’s penal code if found guilty. Malaysian police said last week that a preliminary report showed that VX nerve agent was used in the murder in a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13. 

While the deceased has been widely reported to be Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of late leader Kim Jong Il, Malaysian police have yet to confirm it and deferred to the travel document that identified him as Kim Chol. South Korean government officials have speculated that Kim Jong Un was behind the killing of his half-brother, a critic of his leadership who had lived outside the country for years.

“Both of them looked frightened,” Gooi Soon Seng, a lawyer representing Siti Aisyah, told reporters outside the court.

‘Not Guilty’

Doan was calm, her lawyer Selvam Shanmugam told reporters. When asked in court if she understood the charge, Doan said "yes but I am not guilty," the lawyer said. They didn’t record a plea as the magistrate court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear murder cases, and the lead prosecutor has applied for the defendants to be tried jointly, he said.

Doan Thi Huong

Photographer: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

Police have detained a North Korean citizen as part of investigations and are seeking four others from the reclusive nation whom they believe fled Kuala Lumpur on the day Kim Jong Nam was killed. Authorities also want to question a diplomat at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, an employee at Air Koryo, and a North Korean living in Malaysia for three years.

The women were trained to swipe the poison on the victim’s face and knew the substance was toxic, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said last week, dismissing reports that they were involved in a television prank. They had practiced at a couple of shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, and were instructed to wash their hands after the attack, he said.

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