Malaysia court to continue trial of murder of North Korean leader’s half-brother

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong escorted by armed Malaysian police leaves after facing trial at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Two women charged with murdering the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un must answer for their role in a well-planned conspiracy, a Malaysian judge said on Thursday, but added that the evidence did not prove a political assassination.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese, face the death penalty on charges of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a nerve agent banned by the United Nations, at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 last year.

The murder was a “well-planned conspiracy between the women and the four North Koreans at large”, trial judge Azmi Ariffin said in a ruling that took more than two hours to read.

“I must therefore call upon them to enter their defense.”

He added, “I cannot rule out that this could be a political assassination. Despite that, I am unable to confirm this fact.”

The court has set dates for the women to take the stand between November and next February.

Both women arrived at the high court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital handcuffed and wearing bulletproof vests, to be escorted into the courtroom by gun-wielding policemen.

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