Two women pleaded not guilty Monday to murdering the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, at the start of their trial in Malaysia over the Cold War-style assassination that shocked the world.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, who arrived at the heavily guarded court in handcuffs and wearing bulletproof vests, entered their pleas through interpreters as proceedings got under way.
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 are accused of rubbing toxic VX nerve agent, a chemical so deadly it is listed as a weapon of mass destruction, on his face.
Kim died an agonising death about 20 minutes after the hit, which was caught on airport CCTV as the VX rapidly shut down his central nervous system.
The defendants — who face the death penalty if convicted — claim they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.
The murder sparked an angry row between North Korea and Malaysia with both countries expelling each other’s ambassadors.
The women were led into Sham Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, in handcuffs for the start of the trial. Aisyah, 25, was wearing traditional Malaysian dress and Huong, 29, a blue jumper.
The murder charge was read to them in their native languages and interpreters assigned to the defendants indicated they were pleading not guilty.
Prosecutor Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad then read a statement giving details of the murder and said the prosecution had sufficient evidence to prove the women’s guilt.
He said the women had carried out exercises with four other people before the murder to ensure they succeeded in their “common intention” of killing Kim.