A Malaysian lawyer who is visiting Indonesia and represents a local woman charged with killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Kuala Lumpur last year expressed confidence Wednesday that she would be acquitted.
Indonesian citizen Siti Aisyah and co-defendant Doan Thi Huong, a Vietnamese national, are standing trial in Malaysia for allegedly killing Kim Jong Nam in a chemical weapon attack at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13, 2017. But Siti’s attorney, Gooi Soon Seng, claimed the evidence against his client was flimsy.
“I’m very sure that Siti Aisyah will be found not guilty. I will be very disappointed if the judges decide otherwise,” Gooi told reporters in Jakarta. Gooi said the prosecution’s efforts to link Aisyah to the killing were weak.
He said a nurse who treated Kim at the airport clinic said he told staff that he had been attacked by a woman, contradicting statements made by security guards in the terminal who had said that two women were involved. In addition, no traces of VX, a nerve agent classified as an internationally banned chemical weapon, were found on Aisyah’s nails.
No motive has been established for the murder, the Malaysian lawyer noted. “How can Siti be convicted while four other suspects remain at large and are not charged,” he said, referring to four North Korean men, who, Malaysian authorities said, were believed to be involved in the killing and fled the country within hours of the attack.
Prosecutors said Siti and Doan, who could face death sentences if convicted, knew they were handling VX when they accosted Kim Jong Nam in the departure terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 and smeared the substance on his face.
Both women have pleaded not guilty, insisting they were duped by the men into believing that they were being paid to perform a video prank. Siti, a Jakarta resident in her mid-20s, is a divorced mother of a young boy. Her parents are from nearby West Java province.
Malaysian police said she and Doan arrived in Malaysia days before Kim was killed, but both previously worked there. Siti had been employed as a worker at a local spa. The prosecution portion of the case concluded June 28 and the court is scheduled to rule on Aug. 16.
“If it is ruled that there’s a prima facie case, they will proceed with the defense. If not, Siti Aisyah must be acquitted,” said Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, director for the protection of citizens at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. Lalu said he expected the case could extend into next year if the court rules that the defense must proceed.
Meanwhile, Savitri Wisnuwardhani, the national coordinator of the Indonesian Network of Migrant Workers, called Siti a victim. “Most people, including Siti, won’t be able to distinguish VX from baby oil,” she said. “The government must get to the bottom of the truth.”