World

Two women charged with Kim Jong Nam's murder

SEPANG: A tightly-guarded Malaysian court yesterday charged two women with murdering North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, who was killed with a powerful nerve agent.

The duo face the death penalty if convicted.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, were brought to court in handcuffs and surrounded by masked and armed police and special forces.

It was their first public appearance since they were arrested two weeks ago.

South Korea said Mr Kim's government had ordered the killing of Mr Kim Jong Nam.

Siti, wearing a red T-shirt, was brought in first to hear the murder charge being read out before being taken away.

Huong, dressed in a yellow top, then heard the charge in Vietnamese.

Four others are still "at large".

Neither woman was asked to enter a plea, and their trial is not expected to begin for several months.

But Huong's lawyer, Mr S. Selvam, said she had told the court: "I am not guilty."

Mr Selvam added that his client was "nervous as she is facing a murder charge".

Huong was seen wearing a bulletproof vest as she was escorted out of the building.

Indonesia's acting ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Andreano Erwin, said he had met Siti in court, and she was "calm".

Jakarta's foreign ministry later said that defence lawyers had been granted a request for a "gag order" to prevent details of the investigations being disclosed "so there is no interference in the ongoing legal process".

Malaysian Health Minister S. Subramaniam said yesterday there was no indication that the women had been poisoned by the toxin.

The suspects were brought to the isolated courthouse on the outskirts of the capital in a 20-vehicle convoy, escorted by outriders.

They were bundled into the building as a global media scrum looked on.

More than 100 armed police officers, some wearing balaclavas, had secured the court. - AFP

North KoreamalaysiaMurder