Charges were dropped against Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, at the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia airport on February 13, 2017.
Malaysian police said that Kim had alerted an airport receptionist, saying “someone had grabbed him from behind and splashed a liquid on his face” and that a woman “covered his face with a cloth laced with a liquid. Kim died while being transferred from the airport to the hospital.”
At the time of his death, he was carrying $100,000 in cash and four North Korean passports, all in the name of Kim Chol, an alias he had used since at least 2010.
An autopsy conducted against the wishes of the North Korean government confirmed that Kim’s death was caused by VX nerve agent. (North Korean officials attended the autopsy.)
The women had told authorities they thought they were taking part in a “prank for a TV show.” At the time of her arrest, Huong told police she had been “instructed by four men who were traveling with them to spray Kim with an unidentified liquid while Aisyah held and covered his face with a handkerchief as part of a prank.”
And here is the interesting part. According to Wikipedia,
On 24 February, Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar announced that a post-mortem toxicology report had found traces of the nerve agent VX on Kim’s face. According to experts, the use of VX gas may explain why two assailants were involved, because each assailant “could have wiped two or more precursors” in Kim’s face. This is referred to as a binary chemical weapon. This method could ensure that the assailants were not themselves killed by the poison, which can be fatal in very small amounts; additionally, smuggling the chemical components into Malaysia separately could have helped avoid detection. Aisyah reported she vomited in the taxi afterward and has continued to feel unwell.
The autopsy findings appear to corroborate the story the women had told police.
The airport’s closed circuit television footage showed a woman smearing VX nerve agent on Kim’s face and then both of them fleeing the airport.
Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong were later arrested on murder charges and have been held in custody for two years. Both claim they are innocent.
There are four other suspects in the case, all of whom are North Korean, who fled the country the morning of the murder.
Upon her release early Monday, Aisyah addressed reporters at the Indonesian Embassy and said, “I feel very happy. I didn’t expect that today will be my freedom day.” She also told them she was in good health and had been treated well in prison.
The Indonesian government had been lobbying for Aisyah’s release. A statement released by their Foreign Ministry said she had been “deceived and did not realize at all that she was being manipulated by North Korean intelligence.” It also said Aisyah “never had any intention of killing Kim.”
They added that since her arrest, Siti Aisyah’s release was discussed in “every bilateral Indonesia-Malaysia meeting, including at the presidential level, the vice presidential level and in regular meetings of the foreign minister and other ministers with their Malaysian counterparts.”
Although the court has released Aisyah from prison, “it rejected her lawyer’s request for a full acquittal, as it said that the trial had already established a prima facie case and she could be recalled if fresh evidence emerged.”
It is unknown if Vietnam has intervened on behalf of the remaining suspect, Doan Thi Huong. Huong’s trial will resume on Thursday.
According to Fox News, prosecutors are expected to respond to a request for Doan’s release. Doan’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said, “Huong felt Aisyah’s discharge was unfair to her because the judge last year had found sufficient evidence to continue the murder trial against [both of] them. She is entitled to the same kind of consideration as Aisyah. We are making representation to the attorney general for Doan to be treated equally…there must be justice.”
According to Wikipedia, on 12 December 2018, it was reported that North Korean officials had informally apologised to Vietnam for involving a Vietnamese woman in the assassination following Vietnam’s demands for an official apology and threat to sever diplomatic ties.”
The South Korean government accused the North Korean government of the murder. A spokesman described the killing as a “naked example of Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror.” And over one year later, the US imposed additional sanctions on North Korea.
Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of the late Kim Jong-il. It was reported that he had lived most of his life abroad. Analyst Jung H. Pak of the Brookings Institution believes that Kim Jong-nam was likely murdered on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who saw him as a threat.
Fox News reports that Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.