SHAH ALAM, Malaysia – A police witness told a Malaysian court Thursday that there is no video evidence that shows an Indonesian woman smearing a nerve agent on the face of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader as part of an airport attack that killed him.
Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam were charged last year with murdering Kim Jong Nam by applying the banned VX nerve agent to his face in a busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal on Feb. 13 last year. They allegedly conspired with four North Korean men who fled Malaysia the same day.
Chief police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz agreed with a defense assertion that videos from airport surveillance cameras only showed contact between Huong and Kim.
He said another woman was seen walking away, but her face couldn’t be seen clearly and the cameras did not capture her alleged attack on Kim.
“There is no iota of evidence pointing to the fact that Siti Aisyah was involved in the attack,” Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, told reporters after the hearing Thursday.
“The burden is on prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Siti Aisyah … did the act,” he said.
If they are convicted, the two women could face the death penalty, but not if they lacked intent to kill. Defense lawyers say the women believed they were playing a prank for a hidden-camera TV show and had previously been paid to conduct similar pranks. Prosecutors contend the women knew they were handling poison.
Wan Azirul also agreed with Gooi that there was no video of Kim’s movements for six minutes after he was attacked.
“Where was Kim Jong Nam? Did he go the toilet to wash himself? Was he in contact with anyone before he lodged a complaint? Six minutes is a very long time,” Gooi told reporters.
Gooi told the court earlier that Aisyah celebrated her birthday at the Hard Rock Cafe with her friends the night before the attack. Right after leaving the airport on Feb. 13 she went shopping at a Kuala Lumpur mall, he said.
“If she knew she was carrying out a crime, why didn’t she flee?” Gooi asked reporters.
Wan Azirul also told the court that Aisyah went to Cambodia on Jan. 21 and was introduced to Hong Song Hac, one of the four North Koreans wanted by police. He said she carried out three “pranks” at the Phnom Penh airport and was paid $600.
Later in Kuala Lumpur, Aisyah also carried out pranks at hotels and airports using baby oil, he said.
He agreed with Gooi that Hong had told Aisyah to go to Macao on Feb. 9 last year for a prank but the trip was called off with no explanation.
Gooi told reporters that Aisyah may have been told to go to Macao where Kim was based, but the trip was probably called off because Kim had quietly entered Malaysia on Feb. 6.
Kim, the eldest son in the family that has ruled North Korea since its founding, had been living abroad for years after falling out of favor. It is thought he could have been seen as a threat to the rule of his half brother, Kim Jong Un.
Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim’s death and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.
The trial is to resume Tuesday.