Two women accused of killing the North Korean leader’s half-brother made a chaotic three-hour tour of the Malaysian airport where the alleged crime took place.
Handcuffed and wearing bullet-proof vests, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, of Vietnam, walked around the crime scene on Tuesday, surrounded by dozens of balaclava-clad police who attempted to hold back journalists.
Halfway through the visit, Doan appeared unwell while Siti Aisyah burst into tears, after which the pair were put in wheelchairs. Defence lawyers later said both suspects were worn out from being weighed down by their vests.
“They had to wear bulletproof vests, it is heavy, we walked for three hours. Siti Aisyah and Doan were exhausted,” said Gooi Soon Seng, Aisyah’s lawyer.
The visit to the budget airport terminal was organised to give those involved in the case – including the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers – a better understanding of events on 13 February.
“The CCTV footage was 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.
But the tour quickly descended into disorder as photographers rushed to get images of the women, who have both pleaded not guilty. The busy terminal remained open, and passengers looked on in confusion at the procession of more than 200 police officers, many heavily armed.
Kim Jong-nam died from a seizure while being taken to hospital after complaining that a woman had sprayed chemicals on him. Leaked CCTV footage later showed what prosecutors allege was the two women smearing VX nerve agent on his face.
The women say they were duped into believing they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera show.
Tuesday’s site visit included a restaurant where Aisyah was 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.
Doan and Aisyah are the only two suspects detained in the brazen assassination of Kim, an outcast from North Korea’s ruling family who lived abroad in virtual exile for years.
Police have charged four other suspects, although their nationalities and full names have not been released.
South Korea’s spy agency said the killing was part of a five-year plot by North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un, to assassinate a brother he may have never met.
People who knew him said Kim Jong-nam, who had spoken out against dynastic rule, spent his last few years highly paranoid and hidden from the regime. However, at the time of his death, Kim was travelling on a North Korean diplomatic passport under the name Kim Chol.
Pyongyang has denied any role in the killing and has not even acknowledged the dead man was Kim Jong-nam. Both suspects face the death penalty if convicted.
Since the trial opened on 2 October, witnesses have testified that Kim died from acute VX poisoning and that the banned chemical agent was found on his face and clothing, as well as the women’s clothing and Doan’s fingernail clippings