Kim Jong Nam murder suspect ‘visited Cambodia for TV pranks’
An Indonesian woman charged with murdering the North Korean leader’s half-brother visited Cambodia to take part in what she believed were pranks for a TV show with suspected Pyongyang agents, a court heard Thursday.
Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong are on trial for the Cold War-style assassination of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13 last year while he was waiting for a flight to Macau.
Defence lawyers have argued that the women were recruited to take part in what they thought were prank TV shows but were instead tricked into becoming inadvertent assassins, in an elaborate plot by a group of North Korean agents.
The women, in their 20s, have denied carrying out the murder of Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother by smearing a nerve agent in his face. They face death by hanging if found guilty.
The High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, earlier heard that Aisyah was offered money by Ri Ji U, a North Korean posing as a Japanese man named “James”, to carry out what she was told were practical jokes for TV shows in shopping malls, hotels and airports.
Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said Thursday that the supposed pranks involved sneaking up behind people and smearing their face with a lotion — apparent practice runs for the attack on Kim, which was carried out in a similar fashion.
The court heart that Aisyah travelled to Phnom Penh on January 21 last year where she met “James” and another alleged North Korean agent Hong Song Hac, known by the pseudonym “Mr. Chang”, at the Cambodian capital’s airport.
Aisyah carried out three pranks at the airport, for which she was paid $600, the police’s chief investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz testified.
On her return to Malaysia, she conducted another four pranks at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in early February, Wan Azirul said.
The court heard after a prank on February 7, she posted a message on Facebook saying: “Last day of shooting, hopefully I will gain their trust and my contract will be extended.”
Gooi told the court that the post was proof that she was not guilty: “She is proud of being an actor, she was tricked to do the pranks.”
But the Malaysian police believe the women knew they were carrying out an assassination.
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