Trial begins over assassination of N. Korea leader's half-brother

Trial begins over assassination of N. Korea leader's half-brother
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SHAH ALAM, Malaysia,(APP/AFP): Two women go on trial Monday accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korea 's leader, in an audacious assassination in Malaysia that stunned the world and sparked a diplomatic crisis.

 

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong arrived at the heavily guarded court outside the capital Kuala Lumpur for the proceedings, handcuffed and wearing bulletproof vests.

 

The defendants were arrested just days after the killing of Kim Jong-Nam on February 13 as he waited to board a plane to Macau at Kuala Lumpur airport.

 

The women, both in their 20s, are accused of rubbing toxic VX nerve agent in his face.

 

Kim died an agonising death about 20 minutes after the hit, which was caught on airport CCTV as the VX -- a chemical so deadly it is listed as a weapon of mass destruction -- rapidly overcame his central nervous system.

 

The murder sparked an angry row between North Korea and Malaysia, which had been one of Pyongyang's few allies amid global alarm over the country's atomic weapons programme, with both countries expelling each other's ambassadors.

 

The women -- who face the death penalty if convicted -- are expected to plead not guilty at the start of the trial. The pair claim they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.

 

Defence lawyers are convinced the real culprits have left Malaysia and that the women's innocence will be proven in court.

 

"We are fairly confident that at the end of trial, they will probably be acquitted," Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, a lawyer for Huong, told AFP.

 

About 200 police officers had been deployed to guard Shah Alam High Court , where the trial will take place. The defendants arrived in a convoy of police cars with their sirens blaring.

The diminutive pair bowed their heads as they were led into court past waiting journalists.

 

 

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