Defence lawyers in Kim Jong Nam murder case fear 'trial by ambush'

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Gooi Soon Seng, the attorney of Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman charged with murdering Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, admitted that it is hard to defend his client because the main suspects have escaped to North Korea on the day of the incident.

Police accuse the pair of wiping the banned nerve agent VX on Kim Jong-Nam's face at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 as he was about to board a flight to Macau, where he was living in exile. Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was assassinated in Malaysia on February 14.

They practiced at malls, hotels and airports, Gooi said, speaking ahead of a court appearance Thursday by the two defendants in which prosecutors are expected to ask for the case to be moved to a higher court for the trial.

"The accused person should not be denied her fundamental right to a fair trial", said Aisyah's attorney Gooi Soon Seng. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Malaysia.

Siti's lawyer told the court they had not been provided with a report from the police and prosecution on statements taken from three North Koreans who were allowed to leave Malaysia under a deal that defused a diplomatic crisis between the two nations.

Malaysian police did not immediately respond to calls for comment, but they have said in recent weeks that the deal with North Korea did not affect the investigation.

Ri Ji U, one of the three North Korean suspects who left Malaysia also known by another name - James - was a key witness in the case, but allowing him to return to Pyongyang has only "compromised" the defence, Gooi said.

The hearing, which had been scheduled for Thursday morning, was postponed to May 30 after defence lawyers complained about lack of access to police evidence, including CCTV footage and the suspects' mobile phones.

Gooi said Aisyah and Doan are in good health and being treated well in prison.

"We've lost an opportunity to cross-examine them ..."

Gooi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that James recruited Aisyah in early January to star in his video prank shows.

Police are still looking for four North Korean men who are suspected to have taken part in the murder plot, but are believed to have returned to Pyongyang.

Gooi said Hong asked Aishah to do several more pranks at the Kuala Lumpur airport a few days before Kim was attacked.

"The real culprit has escaped and the people who have been (used) become the scapegoats", Gooi said. He said Aishah met Hong at the airport on the day of the killing, and that Hong identified Kim to Aishah and allegedly put the poison on her hand.

"All of us believe she was cheated".



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