One of two Southeast Asian women accused of killing Kim Jong Nam broke down in tears Tuesday as they visited a Kuala Lumpur area airport where the murder occurred, and where their trial was relocated temporarily under a heavy police presence.
The defendants, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, were brought to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in body-armor vests and handcuffs. They appeared calm in the beginning, but had to be given wheelchairs when they complained of exhaustion after standing for too long, Aisyah’s lawyer said.
“They were made to wear heavy bulletproof vests and had to walk close to three hours. They are tired. So, we requested that our clients be given wheelchairs,” defense attorney Gooi Soon Seng said.
Aisyah became emotional and was seen sobbing about an hour into the airport tour.
More than 200 police officers, many in full-battle gear, provided security as the judge, prosecutors, defense lawyers and the defendants toured the Kuala Lumpur Airport 2 to get a clear perspective of how the Feb. 13 killing unfolded.
The court’s visit on the ninth day of the trial aimed to give Judge Azmi Ariffin a clearer view of what took place on Feb. 13, when the two women allegedly smeared the VX nerve agent on the face of the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“The whole purpose is for us, especially for the court, to have a better understanding of all the layout, about the case, especially the route of the accused, deceased and everything,” lead prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad told reporters after the tour ended.
The visit turned chaotic as TV news crews and reporters pursued the two women around the terminal and armed police stopped them from getting too close.
The two defendants face the death penalty, if convicted. They have pleaded not guilty to murder, saying they were tricked into attacking Kim and thought they were playing a prank for a reality TV show.
Malaysia, South Korea and the United States had linked Kim Jong Un’s regime to the murder that strained almost four decades of diplomatic ties between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang, which has denied involvement in the killing.
Police officers guard Vietnamese Doan Thi Hoang at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, Oct. 24, 2017. [Fadzil Aziz/BenarNews]
During Tuesday’s tour, the two women were first taken to the self check-in area at the airport’s departure hall, where Kim Jong Nam was attacked. Then they were taken to a café inside the terminal where Siti Aisyah was recorded on CCTV meeting a man, identified by investigators as Mr. Chang, who allegedly poured liquid on her hand before the attack.
Mr. Chang was among four men identified by case investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz during his Oct. 12 testimony at the Malaysian High Court in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur.
The four, who are at large and believed to be North Koreans, are accused in the charge sheet of committing the murder along with the two women. The three others are known as James, Mr. Y and Hanamori (alias Grandpa or Uncle), Wan Azirul told the court.
The trial is being closely watched by the Vietnamese and Indonesian governments, which have hired lawyers to defend the women. Their lawyers claim they were scapegoats and victims of an elaborate trick involving the four men.
The tour also included a visit to the toilets allegedly used by the suspects after the assault, a medical clinic where the victim was taken, and the taxi area where both suspects allegedly ran to afterward.
Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, was attacked as he prepared to board a flight to Macau, where he lived. His assassination was captured on airport security cameras.
The trial is expected to resume Wednesday. The court so far has heard testimony from 13 prosecution witnesses, including forensic pathologists, chemists and police photographers.