Women accused of Kim Jong-Nam murder appear in court

An Indonesian and a Vietnamese woman accused of assassinating the half-brother of North Korea’s leader with a deadly nerve agent, appeared in a Malaysian court Tuesday, wearing bullet-proof vests and under heavy security.

Both women, aged in their twenties, could face the death penalty, though they have denied murdering Kim Jong-Nam, saying they were duped into believing they were taking part in a reality TV show.

Seoul accuses North Korea of being behind the February killing, a charge Pyongyang denies.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, appeared for Tuesday’s pre-trial hearing, during which their defence lawyers slammed the prosecution for failing to furnish them with relevant documents.

“The concept of a fair trial demands that all material documents should be supplied to the defence at the earliest opportunity,” Gooi Soon Seng, chief lawyer for Siti Aisyah said.

Deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad assured the defence they will be given the documents before the trial.

The High Court is expected within a month to fix a date when the accused will enter a plea. Prosecutors and defence lawyers will then have 60 more days to prepare for the case, after which the trial dates can be determined.

The Magistrate Court’s judge also approved a prosecution request that the case be moved to the High Court for the trial.

Malaysian police accuse the women of wiping the banned nerve agent VX on Kim’s face as he was about to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau, where he was living in exile.

Police are still trying to trace four North Koreans suspected of having taken part in the murder plot, who are believed to have returned to Pyongyang immediately after the killing.

The murder sparked a diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea.