Women accused in Kim Jong-nam's murder are scapegoats: Defence

Indo Asian News Service

Kuala Lumpur, April 13 (IANS) Two women accused in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were made scapegoats, a Malaysian advocate said on Thursday

Advocate Gooi Soon Seng, leading the defence for the Indonesian accused Siti Aisyah, pleaded not guilty. She along with Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong appeared in a court in Sepang, south of Kuala Lumpur.

The lawyer slammed the Malaysian police for not allowing him sufficient time to meet with his client before the trial, and for not providing CCTV footage which was important in the defence's case.

Gooi also criticised government for allowing three North Korean suspects to return to Pyongyang after recording statements from them following Kim Jong-nam's murder on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Efe news reported.

Aisyah had named one of the North Koreans -- a man called James -- as a suspect in the case.

Gooi added that the defence had asked the police for copies of the statements but had not yet received them.

The lawyer closed his statement by saying that the providence of the proper evidence and resources is part of a fair trial, and that there must be "equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence."

The Sepang court called for the next hearing on May 30 after which the prosecutors will decide if they need more time to prepare the documentation.

Kim Jong-nam died shortly after he was approached by the two women who sprayed his face with a strong toxic agent, an act for which South Korea blamed North Korean agents.

The two women -- who claim they were tricked into the act saying it was a joke for a TV programme -- were arrested and charged on March 1.

Four North Koreans, accused by police of plotting the murder, are believed to have fled to North Korea which has denied its involvement in the murder and has accused South Korea -- with which it technically continues to be at war -- of conspiring with Malaysia.