The murder trial of the only two suspects arrested in the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half brother was transferred to another Malaysian court today. Armed escorts accompanied the women, Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam and Siti Aisyah from Indonesia, as they arrived for their morning court appearance in Kuala Lumpur. Both smiled at their embassy representatives as they were brought to the dock and wore the same clothes as they did at earlier court appearances. Their case was formally transferred to the High Court as the lower court had no jurisdiction to hear a murder case. Prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad said the date for their first appearance in the High Court would usually be within a month.
The suspects would then enter pleas and the trial would have to start within 90 days, Iskandar said. The two women are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13. Kim died soon afterward. The women have said they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera show. Yusron Ambary, counsellor at the Indonesian Embassy, said Siti wrote a letter to her parents recently, asking them not to worry about her.
“I am in good health. Just pray. Don’t think about me too much. Keep healthy and pray at night. I have a lot of people helping me. The embassy officials always come to see me, my lawyers also. Don’t worry. Pray for me so that the case will be over soon and I can go back home. Send my love to my son Rio,” he read from the letter to reporters outside the courtroom.
Police have said four North Korean suspects fled Malaysia the day of the attack. Defense lawyers previously expressed fear the women will be scapegoats because other people believed to have knowledge of the case left the country. Although Malaysia never directly accused North Korea of carrying out the attack, speculation is rampant that Pyongyang orchestrated a hit on a long-exiled member of its ruling elite. Although Kim was not an obvious political threat, he may have been seen as a potential rival in the country’s dynastic dictatorship. Norht Korea has denounced such speculation.