Two women on trial for the brazen assassination of the North Korean leader’s half brother were told Thursday to make their defence after the judge found evidence of a “well-planned conspiracy,” extending their murder trial until next year.
High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin said there was inadequate proof to show it was a political assassination. He said he wasn’t persuaded by defence argument that the women thought they were taking part in a prank for a hidden-camera show. But enough evidence had been presented in the six-month trial to infer the women and four North Korean suspects at large had meticulously engaged in a “well-planned conspiracy” to kill Kim “systemically,” he said.
“I must therefore call upon them to enter their defence,” the judge said after reading his ruling for more than two hours.
Indonesian Ambassador Rusdi Kirana told reporters outside the court that he was shocked by the decision but his government will abide by it.
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In Huong’s village in Vietnam, her family said they were sad to hear she was not acquitted. Her father, Doan Van Thanh, said he could not sleep last night, anxious to hear the ruling.
“I had hoped the court would announce that she is innocent but now we are really worried for her,” her father said.
Huong’s brother, Doan Van Binh, said the family hopes she will receive a fair trial.
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Aisyah, 25, and Huong, 29, told the court they would testify under oath in their defence. Aisyah, who will be the first to take the stand when the trial resumes Nov. 1, later cried and was consoled by her lawyers and Indonesian officials. Huong was calm. The judge set hearing dates that extend until next February.
The women are accused of colluding with four North Korean suspects who fled the country the same morning Kim was killed. Aisyah and Huong are the only suspects in custody and face the death penalty if convicted.
According to the case presented so far, the four men known to Aisyah and Huong by code names recruited, trained and supplied the women with the banned chemical weapon that they smeared on Kim’s face.
“The onus is on the accused to explain their conduct,” he added.Lawyers for the two women have said their clients were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.The judge said the four North Koreans played a “substantial role” and were “part of the chain that led to the murder” of Kim. The defence has argued the real culprits are the four North Korean suspects and have pointed to an embassy employee who helped arrange their travel as evidence of embassy involvement.WATCH BELOW: White House denies another meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un