AN AIRPORT in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is abuzz with activity on Tuesday as the two women accused of murdering the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s supreme leader are brought to revisit the crime scene.
Some 40 journalists and cameramen flocked Kuala Lumpur Airport 2 (klia2) departure hall, arriving as early as 6am to report on the court visit, according to the New Straits Times.
Handcuffed, wearing bulletproof vests and under heavily armed guard, the two women on trial arrived at the area just before 10am, escorted by over 50 police Special Task Force On Organised Crime (Stafoc) personnel wearing black masks and uniforms.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with chemical nerve agent VX at the budget international terminal on Feb 13.
The site visit covered various locations in the terminal shown in the videos, such as a restaurant where Siti Aisyah had been seen meeting an unidentified man, the toilets where police witnesses said both women had gone to after the attack, the clinic where the victim sought medical aid and the taxi stands where both suspects were seen after the attack.
Huong appeared unwell midway through the three-hour site visit, while Siti Aisyah broke down in tears. Both women were then provided wheelchairs.
Defence lawyers said both Huong and Siti Aisyah were exhausted from being weighed down by their bulletproof vests.
The lawyers say the women thought they were involved in a prank for a reality TV show when they encountered a man at the airport and did not know they were handling poison.
The two women were brought back to the scene as part of an entourage of court officials, led by trial judge Azmi Ariffin and accompanied by over 200 policemen and dozens of journalists, on a visit to retrace the events that unfolded before, during and after Jong Nam’s death.
Hakim,pihak pendakwaan,pembelaan & tertuduh hadir lawat lokasi pembunuhan Kim Chol@Kim Jong-nam yg didakwa mati akibat disapu racun di KLIA2 pic.twitter.com/7gxy3Mv1qt
— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) October 24, 2017
Defence lawyers requested the visit after video recordings of the women on airport closed-circuit television were screened in court.
Siti Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said the visit was necessary to verify the surroundings and locations where the prosecution said the murder took place.
“The CCTV footages were taken from various cameras and various places, so from there we couldn’t get a complete picture on how (the incident) took place,” Gooi told a news conference after the visit.
Recordings on Feb 13 show Huong approaching Jong Nam and grasping his face from behind near the airport’s check-in counters before quickly leaving. Siti Aisyah could not be seen but was identified by a police witness as a figure running in another direction. The videos also show the women heading to separate bathrooms to wash their hands.
Both women were seen meeting with two men, identified only as Mr Chang and Mr Y, before Kim’s death. According to police, the men had applied the liquid on the women’s hands and were among four suspects-at-large charged together with the women for the murder.
The airport visit comes as the high-profile trial entered its third week. Twelve witnesses have testified so far.
Forensic and chemical weapons experts said Jong Nam had died of nerve agent poisoning, and that VX had been found on Siti Aisyah and Huong’s clothes. Traces of the poison were also found under Huong’s fingernails.
Prosecutors said Siti Aisyah and Huong conspired with four others who are still at large to kill Jong Nam.
South Korean and US officials have said Jong Un’s regime was behind his half-brother’s death.
Jong Nam, who was living in exile in Macau, had criticised his family’s dynastic rule of North Korea and his brother had ordered his execution, according to some South Korean lawmakers.
The hearing resumes in court on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Reuters