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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jong-nam murder: Why was ‘James’ allowed to leave?

PETALING JAYA - The defence of one of the accused in Kim Jong-nam’s assassination might be compromised as a crucial witness was allowed to leave the country.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28 and four others still at large are facing trial for the murder of Kim at KL International Airport 2 (KLIA2) departure hall at 9am on February 13.

On March 1 Siti Aisyah and Doan were charged with the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by way of VX nerve agent.

They face the death penalty if convicted.

“Siti told the police a person known to her as ‘James’ had recruited her to carry out the act,” Siti Aisyah’s counsel Gooi Soon Seng told the Malay Mail.

Gooi said despite that, “James” who police had identified as RI Ji-u was allowed to leave Kuala Lumpur.

It is reported “James” was one of the three North Koreans who stayed inside their country’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur to avoid questioning by police.

However, the three were cleared by police to fly home on March 30 after their statements were recorded. The trio were allowed to depart with Kim’s body.

“Police are insisting his statement has been recorded. But morally that is a compromise to my client’s defence because he is a crucial subject,” he said.

It was reported an exchange deal was struck between the two countries where the three men were allowed to leave Kuala Lumpur with Kim’s body and nine Malaysians stranded in Pyongyang were allowed to return home.

Gooi said it may have been a political move to get the nine Malaysians home but it shouldn’t have been done at the expense of Siti Aisyah.

“James’ statement is not sufficient for the trial as more questioning is required,” argued Gooi, who has written to the police for details of the statement.

Gooi reiterated his stand that the girls were scapegoats and pawns, while the culprits were still free and he was concerned the duo may not get a fair trial.

Gooi said:

― CCTV only showed Siti Aisyah walking away from Kim but not committing the crime.

― Report gave cause of death as degrading products of VX and not VX itself.

― Receiving 30-35 hard copy documents and 20 DVD from prosecution lawyers yesterday.

Yesterday, Judge Datuk Azmi Ariffin of Shah Alam High Court set the trial for 23 days beginning October 2.

The plea from both accused would  be recorded on October 2.

The court also allowed the prosecution’s application for the case to be jointly tried.

Selangor prosecution director Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad, who led the prosecution team, informed the court  the prosecution would call between 30 and 40 witnesses, including 10 expert witnesses.

Lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik acted for Doan.

Kim, who travelled with a passport bearing the name of Kim Chol, died while on the way to Putrajaya Hospital.

He came to Malaysia on February 6.

By Reena Raj

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