Kim Jong Nam trial resumes as Vietnamese suspect takes the stand

Nicola Smith
Doan Thi Huong will testify in the Kim Jong Nam trial on Monday - AP

The trial of two women accused of killing Kim Jong-un’s half-brother will resume in Malaysia after months of delay on Monday, with a Vietnamese suspect in the case taking to the stand for the first time. 

In a brazen plot resembling a spy thriller, Doan Thi Huong, 29, from Vietnam, and Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesia, are suspected of assassinating Kim Jong Nam, 45, by smearing lethal VX nerve agent on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. 

The women were ordered to testify in an August ruling by High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin, who said that it could be inferred from evidence presented in court that there was a "well-planned conspiracy" between them and four North Korean suspects to kill Kim. The North Koreans remain at large. 

He said he "cannot rule out that this could be a political assassination" but noted there was no concrete evidence to support this. 

The two young women, both from impoverished backgrounds but with aspirations for stardom, have claimed since their arrest shortly after the murder that they were duped by North Korean agents into believing that they were actors in a TV prank show when they wiped the toxic substance on Kim’s face. 

Siti Aisyah, from Indonesia, will also stand trial Credit: Reuters

Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, one of Ms Doan’s lawyers, told The Telegraph that she was “well and fine” ahead of the trial, but added that “there is definitely a bit of anxiety.”

His client’s main line of defence would be that she had “no knowledge” of the audacious conspiracy, he said. “She will take the oath and testify the truth as per her police statement that she gave when she was arrested.”

Mr Hisyam said he was “very confident” that his client would be acquitted based on the evidence and her statement. However, the trial is set is expected to require several hearings. 

The pair of women have been on trial since October 2017 but proceedings have been hit by repeated delays, and Ms Aisyah's defence - which was originally due to start last year – is currently on hold due to a row over witness statements. 

Last year prosecutors presented their case, calling 34 witnesses. Some described how the victim died in agony when his body quickly seized up as the substance took effect. 

Kim was the estranged relative of the North Korean leader and it is widely believed he was targetted for being a perceived threat to the isolated regime. 

South Korea has accused the North of ordering the hit, which Pyongyang denies. 

The women are the only two suspects in custody, after four accused North Koreans - the alleged masterminds of the plot – fled Malaysia and went into hiding. 

A murder conviction currently carries a mandatory death penalty in Malaysia, although plans are afoot by the Malaysian government to abolish capital punishment for all crimes.