Malaysia: Kim Jong Nam Carried $100,000 in Backpack, Witness Says

Hareez Lee and Fadzil Aziz
Shah Alam, Malaysia
171011-my-dong-620.jpg Malaysian police officers escort Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Hoang (left) out of the Shah Alam court complex outside Kuala Lumpur, Oct. 11, 2017.
Fadzil Aziz/BenarNews

Investigators found $100,000 in a backpack that Kim Jong Nam carried when he was murdered at a Kuala Lumpur area airport, a police investigator testified Wednesday during the trial of two Southeast Asian women charged in the fatal chemical attack.

Video footage from airport cameras also showed the two women raising their hands and hurrying to separate restrooms after touching Kim’s face, police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz said on the witness stand.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Hoang, 28, face murder charges for allegedly rubbing VX nerve agent on Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb. 13. They could be sentenced to death, if found guilty.

Wan Azirul, the case investigator and a witness for the prosecution, told the Malaysian High Court in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur, that he found 422,294 Malaysian ringgit (about US$100,000) in Kim’s backpack during the investigation. The money was in the custody of the police chief of Sepang, the district that has jurisdiction over the case, he said.

“Yes, I found it in his bag,” Wan Azirul said, when a prosecutor asked him about the money.

The testimony was the first time that a law enforcement official attached a specific figure to money found amid the murder victim’s belongings. In June, Malaysian national police said Kim was carrying an undisclosed amount of cash when he was murdered.

Wan Azirul also testified that his superiors ordered him to return Kim’s personal belongings to representatives of the North Korean Embassy. The items included a blazer, bag, shoes and a bracelet, he said.

“I don’t know why, I was just following orders,” he said.

During his testimony the prosecution played more than 30 videos of airport surveillance-footage. The two defendants appeared calm while the videos were played in the courtroom.

Prosecutors presented the videos six days after a government chemist testified that he found traces of VX, a nerve agent banned by the United Nations, on the clothes of the two women.

The chemist’s testimony bolstered the prosecution’s contention that the two defendants knew they were handling a highly toxic chemical.

VX can be removed safely by careful hand-washing within 15 minutes of exposure, Raja Subramaniam, the chief chemist at Malaysia’s Chemical Weapons and Analysis Center, testified on Oct. 5.

‘She knew what she was doing’

Defense lawyers objected to the playing of the videos, saying Wan Azirul did not record the videos himself and was not present during the Feb. 13 murder. That evidence should be considered hearsay, they told the judge, who allowed the presentation to go on.

Wan Azirul said the closed-circuit recording showed Doan, who appeared to be leaving in a hurry after the attack, holding her hands up.

“After she (Doan) made the attack, she left the area of incident hurriedly and the movements of her hands indicated she was uneasy,” he said.

“In one instance when she lowered her hands, she tried to keep them from touching her shirt’s sleeves. In another instance, she lifted up her hands sideways,” he said.

“From my observation, she knew what she was doing albeit being anxious,” he said.

Wan Azirul said the videos also showed Siti Aisyah sprinkling water on her hands while descending to the lower floor of the airport building without holding on to the escalator’s railing.

Doan’s facial expression showed that she was “anxious” during the attack and appeared like she wanted to leave the scene immediately to go to a restroom, the investigator said.

He said the mannerisms of the women changed when they emerged from the restroom.

Doan’s hand movements appeared to have returned to normal, although she was still in a hurry, while Siti Aisyah was recorded taking out a scarf from her sling bag and placing it on her shoulder, he said.

He said the two women looked as though they were in a hurry to leave the airport after allegedly attacking Kim.

Wan Azirul said the two women were mostly seen in separate locations, except during the attack and when they were at a taxi-stand later.

Doan could be seen buying a taxi ticket, while Siti Aisyah was handed a taxi ticket by an unidentified man wearing a black cap. The man also met Siti Aisyah at a restaurant near the airport hours before the attack, he said.

“Both (Siti Aisyah and the man) were sitting together and talking and then the man handed a taxi ticket to Siti Aisyah around 8:14 in the morning,” Wan Azirul said, adding that the Indonesian and the man were talking in a friendly manner.

During opening statements, prosecutors said they aimed to disprove the claims of the two women that they thought they were involved in a reality TV show prank along with four other people.

Shortly after the killing, the four North Korean men were seen leaving the airport, but they fled the country on the same day, according to Malaysian police.

The trial resumes on Thursday.


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