Women to be charged with Kim Jong-nam's murder

Malaysia's Attorney General said yesterday that the two women accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea's leader with a nerve agent in a Kuala Lumpur airport terminal will be charged with murder.

Mohamed Apandi Ali said Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong would be charged today and would face a mandatory death sentence if convicted. The Attorney General confirmed the women would be charged in a text message to The Associated Press.

Two other suspects in the February 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam have been arrested - a Malaysian who is out on bail and a North Korean who remains in custody.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong. Photo / AP
Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong. Photo / AP

Asked if the North Korean will be charged, Apandi said it depended on the outcome of the investigations.

Authorities also are seeking another seven North Korean suspects, four of whom fled the country the day of Kim's death and are believed to be back in North Korea.

The killing of Kim Jong Nam took place amid crowds of travellers at Kuala Lumpur's airport and appeared to be a well-planned hit.

Malaysian authorities say North Koreans put the deadly nerve agent VX on the hands of Aisyah and Huong, who then placed the toxin on Kim's face. Kim, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, died on the way to a hospital, within about 20 minutes of the attack.

South Korean lawmakers said on Monday that the country's National Intelligence Service told them in a private briefing that four of the North Koreans identified as suspects are from the Ministry of State Security, the North's spy organ.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah. Photo / AP
Indonesian Siti Aisyah. Photo / AP

On Monday, S Subramaniam, Malaysia's Health Minister, said Kim was exposed to a huge amount of VX, a nerve agent so lethal it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, North Korea has sent a high-level delegation to Malaysia to seek the return of the body of Kim Jong Nam.

The delegation includes Ri Tong Il, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations. He told reporters yesterday outside the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur that the diplomats were in Malaysia to seek the retrieval of the body and the release of a North Korean arrested in the case.

While Malaysia has confirmed that that the body is that of Kim Jong Nam, North Korea, has identified the victim only as a North Korean national with a diplomatic passport.

Ri says the delegation also seeks the "development of friendly relationships" between North Korea and Malaysia.

- AP

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