Two women have been charged with murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A Vitenamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, and an Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, were declared guilty by a Malaysian court.
Tests showed that Kim Jong-nam was killed using an extremely toxic nerve agent known as VX. One drop of the chemical on a person’s skin can kill them in minutes. Since Kim Jong-nam’s passing, Malaysia’s health minister has shared the results of the autopsy report, calling the toxin used as something that causes extreme paralysis. The United Nations has classified VX as a weapon of mass destruction.
The Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, was involved in administering the chemical to the late Kim Jong-nam. Twenty-five-year-old Siti says that she was paid the equivalent of $90 dollars to carry out the deed, which she thought was part of a prank. She told officials that she was handed the deadly nerve agent by some men who told her it was all a part of a reality TV show and she was to rub the “baby oil” in Kim Jong-nam’s face.
The two women could not enter their pleas since the court in which they were being tried lacked the jurisdiction over a murder case. Iskander Ahmad, the lead prosecutor in the case, told them they were working on transferring the murder case over to a higher court where both women could be tried together. If convicted, the women will face a mandatory death sentence. For the moment, they are being held in Kajang Prison.
There have been a lot of conspiracy surrounding the death of the North Korean leader’s half-brother. Many have speculated that North Korea planned and carried out the attack. North Korean officials have, however, refuted the claim, denying any ties to the murder. A delegation from Pyongyang came to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to receive the body of the late Kim Jong-nam. Malaysian officials are, however, hesitant in handing the body over to the North Koreans without receiving proper DNA samples and a confirmation from the next of kin. Jong-nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter living in Beijing and Macau.
Kim Jong-nam was killed almost two weeks ago after being exposed to the deadly chemical. Two women approached him in the low-cost carrier terminal at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, known as KLIA2, and smeared the deadly VX toxin to his face. Autopsy reports later confirmed the use of the chemical. Malaysia’s Health Minister S Subramaniam shared the results of the autopsy, which claimed that a “chemical agent caused very serious paralysis and led to his death in a very short period of time.” Authorities are seeking seven other suspects belived to have ties to the murder, four of whom have fled the country.
Indonesian Deputy Ambassador Andreano Erwin held a 30-minute interrogation with the Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah. According to Mr. Erwin, 25-year old Siti Aisyah claims that she had no idea what she was getting involved in.
“She only said in general that somebody asked her to do this activity. She only said in general she met with some people who looked Japanese or Korean. According to her, that person gave her 400 ringgits to do this activity… She only said she was given a kind of oil, like baby oil.”
Kim Jong-nam was the oldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. For many years, it was speculated that he was to succeed his father as the head of state of North Korea. But in 2001, Kim Jong-nam was caught trying to sneak into Japan under a false passport. Since them, Kim Jong-nam had become one of the most vocal critics of the North Korean state openly challenging the policies of the state.
[Featured Image by Wong Maye-E, Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Images]