Defence in Kim Jong Nam murder case fears ‘trial by ambush’

Defence in Kim Jong Nam murder case fears 'trial by ambush'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Handcuffed and facing the judge, two young women accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam appeared in court Thursday as their lawyers said Malaysian police still have not handed over security camera footage and documents crucial to the defence.

Siti Aisyah, from Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam are the only suspects in custody in the Feb. 13 killing of Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korea’s ruler. Four North Korean suspects fled the country the day of the murder, police say.

“The accused person should not be denied her fundamental right to a fair trial,” said Aisyah’s attorney Gooi Soon Seng. He said he has been waiting for police to provide surveillance video and statements from three North Korean men who were questioned and released.

“Neither side may seek unfair advantage by concealing weapons behind its back. There should be no trial by ambush,” Gooi said.

The judge postponed the hearing until May 30.

National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said later Thursday that defence lawyers must apply for the evidence through the courts and that police have to get clearance from the attorney general before releasing it.

When asked about lawyers’ contention that they had sent requests five times, by fax and by hand, without getting a police reply, Khalid said, “Maybe it did not reach the correct officer. … There must be some communication breakdown somewhere.”

The women are accused of smearing Kim’s face with banned VX nerve agent at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur. But they say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera show.

The women face the death penalty if convicted.

Gooi said he fears the women will become scapegoats because all the other people believed to have knowledge of the case have left the country.

The four North Koreans who flew out of Malaysia the day of the murder are believed to be back in Pyongyang. And another three who stayed inside their country’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur to avoid questioning by police were allowed to fly home late last month after Malaysia struck a surprise deal with Pyongyang to ease tensions.

Malaysian police have said they questioned the three men and found no grounds to hold them. But Gooi said Thursday that at least one of those three men — identified by police as Ri Ji U and known to Aisyah as “James” — was key to her defence.

“This amounts to a miscarriage of justice,” Gooi said of Malaysia’s decision to allow the men to leave the country. “They (the defendants) are already scapegoats.”

Khalid dismissed Gooi’s claim.

“They can say anything they like but we have a case with us. I am just waiting for the North Koreans to send back the four (suspects) to us,” he said.

Gooi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that James recruited Aisyah in early January to star in his video prank shows. Over the course of several days, he had her rub oil or pepper sauce on a victim’s face, “from forehead downwards,” which he would film on his phone, the lawyer said.

They practiced at malls, hotels and airports, he said. Aisyah was paid $100-$200 for each prank and hoped the income would allow her to stop working as a social escort, Gooi said.

Gooi said Aisyah flew to Cambodia in late January, where James introduced her to Hong Song Hac, one of four North Korean suspects who left Malaysia on the day of the murder. Hong had introduced himself as Chang, a Chinese who produces video prank shows for the Chinese market, he said.

Gooi said Hong asked Aisyah to do several more pranks at the Kuala Lumpur airport a few days before Kim was attacked. He said Aisyah met Hong at the airport on the day of the killing, and that Hong identified Kim to Aisyah and allegedly put the poison on her hand.

Malaysia never directly accused North Korea of carrying out the attack, but speculation is rampant that Pyongyang directed a hit on a long-exiled member of its ruling elite.

Tran Huy Hoang, a cousin of the Vietnamese suspect, said she is doing well in prison and had even gained weight.

“The family and many Vietnamese people believe that she is innocent,” he said outside court Thursday. “We believe she was cheated and we hope that the truth will come out.”

Eileen Ng, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Most Read