A Malaysian police investigator said Thursday the absence of four North Korean suspects believed to have orchestrated the killing of their leader’s half brother didn’t cause prejudice against the two women who are on trial.
Defense lawyers say Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia are scapegoats in the murder of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on Feb. 13 last year. Prosecutors say four North Korean suspects recruited the women and provided them the banned VX nerve agent used to kill Kim before fleeing the country on the same day.
Chief police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz disagreed with the defense’s contention that the absence of the four North Koreans had caused prejudice.
“Because in this case, the perpetrators who committed the killing are the two accused,” he told the court.
He denied that police didn’t take adequate measures to pursue the four men nor that his investigations were incomplete without the testimony of the North Koreans. He said Interpol had issued an alert for the four men to be arrested based on Malaysia’s request.
The court has heard that the women thought they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden camera show but prosecutors contend the women knew they were handling poison. The two women were charged to have common intention with the four North Koreans to murder Kim.
They could face the death penalty if convicted, but not if they lacked intent the kill.
Defense lawyers, who are cross-examining Wan Azirul, sought to show that the police official was biased and sloppy in his investigations and failed to probe aspects that could bolster the women’s defense that they had no intent to kill.
“The investigation was incomplete, biased and one-sided. The real culprits have left and efforts to bring them back or find them were zero. At the end of the day, my client is a scapegoat,” Huong’s lawyer Naran Singh told the Associated Press.
Singh said the four men should be the ones in the dock, and the two women should be prosecutors’ witnesses against them.
Kim, the eldest son in the family that has ruled North Korea since its founding, had been living abroad for years after falling out of favor. It is thought he was assassinated because he was perceived to be a threat to the rule of his half brother, Kim Jong Un.
Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim’s death and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.