JAKARTA: The Indonesian woman accused of killing Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is likely to be acquitted as the evidence against her is circumstantial, her lawyer said on Wednesday.
The Malaysian High Court in Shah Alam, Selangor, has set the date for a court hearing on Aug. 16, when the judge will rule on whether Siti Aisyah, 26, and her co-defendant Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong, 29, will be acquitted or called to make their defense in further court hearings.
“I am confident that Siti Aisyah will be acquitted without her defense being called for as the evidence produced by the prosecutor was wholly circumstantial,” Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng told journalists.
“There was no eyewitness to the incident and the case was based on CCTV footage, which showed that Siti Aisyah did not attack the deceased,” he said. He added that CCTV footage only showed Doan attacking Kim Jong Nam and, unlike Aisyah, Doan admitted that she had attacked him.
Both women are accused on separate charges of killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with a piece of cloth laced with the deadly VX nerve agent poison, but are being jointly tried as the evidence and witnesses are the same.
Gooi said that the prosecutor relied on Kim Jong Nam’s final words to prove that two women attacked him, but there was a contradiction from two witnesses about the number of women who had attacked him.
A security officer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where the murder took place on Feb. 13, 2017, testified in court that Kim Jong Nam told her two women attacked him, however a nurse at the airport clinic testified that he told her he was attacked by one woman. “The nurse’s evidence was corroborated by the doctor’s medical note, which stated that Kim Jong Nam was attacked by one woman. The material contradiction was never explained by the prosecutor,” Gooi said.
Other evidence supporting Gooi’s defense of Aisyah’s innocence was that her DNA was not found on a shirt that the prosecutor said contained traces of VX nerve agent. The shirt was confiscated from the hotel room where Aisyah was arrested. The police officer who arrested her and seized the shirt testified that he stored it in a black plastic bag, while the investigating officer said that he received the shirt in a clear plastic bag.
“There was a break in the chain of evidence,” Gooi said, adding Aisyah’s fingernail clippings also did not show any traces of VX agent and she did not suffer any symptoms relating to VX poisoning.
Aisyah was also charged in having a common intention to commit murder with four North Koreans, who fled Malaysia after the incident and were still at large but whose names were not mentioned in the charge.
Gooi said that the prosecutor had failed to prove with direct evidence that Aisyah had the intention to kill the deceased.
“In defense, we told the court that Aisyah was at the airport because she was asked to go there to do a prank,” Gooi said, adding that the burden lay with the prosecution to prove otherwise.
Gooi said that political assasination could not be ruled out in this case since the four North Korean suspects were allegedly linked to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the Foreign Ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesians abroad, told Arab News that the court hearing on Aug. 16 would rule if the evidence and witnesses presented so far would be sufficient to establish a case until proven otherwise.
“If they are insufficient, Aisyah should be acquitted of the charges against her,” Iqbal said, adding that Aisyah’s defense team had repeteadly asked the judge to put on record the inconsistencies and contradictions of evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecutor.
Aisyah faces a death sentence by hanging if found guilty of murdering Kim Jong Nam.