Kim Jong-Nam murder suspects taken to Malaysian court

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam were taken to the Sepang magistrate's court located close to the airport where Kim Jong-Nam was fatally poisoned on February 13.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 13, 2017, 10:03 AM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Two women accused of assassinating the half-brother of North Korea's leader were taken to a Malaysian court in bulletproof vests on Thursday ahead of a murder trial that could see them hanged.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, were taken to the Sepang magistrate's court located close to the airport where Kim Jong-Nam was fatally poisoned on February 13.

Prosecutors are expected to apply for the case to be transferred to an upper court, where the women would be tried for murder. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Malaysia.

Police accuse the pair of having wiped the nerve agent VX on Kim's face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The poison is classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned around the world.

Rival South Korea accuses the North of masterminding the death of Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Pyongyang denies the accusation.

Some 100 police officers including masked special forces armed with assault rifles were deployed to secure the small court compound where the women were taken for Thursday's hearing.

Police are still looking for four North Korean men who are suspected accomplices of the women. The four, however, are believed to have returned to Pyongyang.

Three other North Koreans earlier described as "persons of interest", including a diplomat based in Malaysia, have been allowed to return home.

The killing sparked a diplomatic crisis between Malaysia and North Korea which saw both countries banning each other's citizens from leaving and withdrawing their ambassadors.

The travel ban was lifted in late March after a deal was struck involving the return of Kim's body to Pyongyang.