KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia will begin on October 2 the trial of two women accused of the dramatic killing of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader, the High Court said on Friday.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, are charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 by smearing his face with VX, a chemical the United Nations describes as a weapon of mass destruction.
Appearing at the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, both women were handcuffed and wearing bullet-proof vests over Malay traditional costume, consisting of a floor-length skirt and a blouse.
“We will start in October,” said Judge Azmi Ariffin. “The hearing has been fixed for the second.” Both cases would be tried jointly, with pleas taken at the first hearing, he added.
If convicted, the women could face the death penalty.
Doan smiled during the hearing, but Siti Aisyah was in tears afterwards, with her lawyers seen trying to calm her.
Defense lawyers have warned previously that they feared “trial by ambush”, with police not sharing evidence.
Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad said the prosecution had given a further 33 documents and CCTV recordings to the defense, and would call between 30 and 40 witnesses, depending on the progress of the trial.
“Having seen the CCTV recordings, I hope the judge will have a better understanding of how the situation took place,” said Gooi Soon Seng, Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, adding that he had asked for a visit to the crime scene during the trial.
Kim was the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. His half brother, Kim Jong Un, became North Korean leader when their father died in 2011.
U.S. and South Korean officials say the North Korean regime was behind the murder of Kim, who lived in exile in Macau and had criticized his family’s dynastic rule of North Korea.
North Korea has refused to accept the dead man was Kim Jong Un’s half brother, suggesting instead he died of a heart attack.
Aisyah and Huong have told diplomats from their countries that they believed they were participating in a reality television show prank when they assaulted Kim Jong Nam.
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Neil Fullick and Clarence Fernandez