The Kim Jong Nam murder trial began on October 2, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is currently in recess until November 6, 2017. Here’s what we know so far:
Kim Jong Nam was the older half-brother of North Korea Kim Jong Un. They shared the same father.
Kim Jong Nam was assassinated on February 13, 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia. His assassination was caught on surveillance cameras.
In the video, Kim Jong Nam is approached from behind by a woman who smears something onto his face, particularly in the area of his eyes. A second woman then repeats the process. The women each go to separate restrooms and wash their hands and then leave the airport without incident.
Kim Jong Nam gestures for help from airport security and is escorted to a medical area of the airport. He is medically distressed and is transported to a hospital but pronounced dead at the hospital. (Initial reports said he was dead within 20 minutes, but the trial account says it was approximately 2 hours before death occurred.)
The chemicals are later determined to be a VX nerve agent classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
The women are identified via video surveillance and are arrested within a few days of the incident. They claim they thought they were part of a prank for a reality TV show and did not know the chemicals were lethal. Both women claimed they were directed by four men known only by nicknames.
The women have been charged with murder and face death by hanging if it convicted.
This combination of file handout pictures released by the Royal Malaysian Police in Kuala Lumpur shows suspects Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, left, and Siti Ashyah of Indonesia, right, who were detained in connection to the Feb. 13, 2017, assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. (AFP/Getty Images)
The women face death by hanging if convicted.
TRIAL HIGHLIGHTS THROUGH 10.26.17
The accused are Indonesian citizen Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese citizen Doan Thi Huong, 29.
Murder occurred at 9 am while Nam waited near the check-in counter in the departure hall at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. He was travelling alone.
Nam was carrying a passport that said his name was Kim Jong Chol, which is the name of Kim Jong Un’s younger brother.
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The North Korean government requested that no autopsy be performed on the body. The attorney general’s office in Kuala Lumpur overruled the request and the autopsy was performed on February 15. No next of kin was available to identify the body and North Korea officially denied the dead man was Kim Jong Nam, insisting instead it was actually the Kim Jong Chol identified by the passport. Through a secret process, DNA was obtained from Kim Jong Nam’s son and the body was confirmed to be that of Kim Jong Nam. (Kim Jong Nam’s family is now in hiding.)
The autopsy confirmed acute VX nerve agent poisoning. Nam’s body was released to the North Korean embassy under pressure. Malaysian and North Korean relations are now very tense.
The trial was briefly moved to a lab to safely view VX stained clothing belonging to both the victim and the suspects.
Next, video footage showed Kim Jong Nam after the attack in distress, escorted to an onsite medical clinic, walking first and then staggering, and on a stretcher being wheeled to an ambulance.
Video also showed the two suspects fleeing the scene after washing their hands.
It was revealed that Kim Jong Nam had $100,000 in cash on him when he died.
Each woman’s lawyer was hired by her own country and blame NK for the attack, insisting women are just dupes.
Police revealed that Huong had done a practice “prank” at the airport two days before.
About two weeks into the trial, the issue of the mystery men who are suspected of directing the two women began to unfold.
The men have only been named in court by the pseudonyms they gave to the women:
Mr.Y, seen walking with Doan into the airport and also seen pouring liquid into Doan’s hands.
Mr. Chang, seen with Siti Aisyah at a restaurant and also seen pouring liquid into her hands.
Hanamori, also known as Grandpa/Uncle, suspected of giving orders to Mr. Y and the apparent ringleader of the operation.
James who is suspected of recruiting Siti Aisyah.
(Although it has not yet been discussed in the trial, Interpol issued an international red warrant for Ri Ji Hyon, Hong Song Hac, O Joong Gil and Ri Jae Nam. These four are charged in the crime as well, a charge called “Common Intention,” but are considered to be “still at large.”)
On October 24, the trial moved to the scene of the crime. The overwrought suspects were transferred to wheelchairs and one was crying. They had to wear bullet proof vests and handcuffs.
A North Korea scientist named Ri Jong Chol has not been charged although he did own a car that took two of the men to the airport on the day of the crime. Due to “insufficient evidence” he was deported back to NK.
It was revealed Nam had a total of 4 passports all bearing the name of Kim Chol.
The four wanted men all left Malaysia by air on the same day as the murder and video shows attempts to make changes to their appearances after visits to the restroom.
The trial resumes on November 6, 2017.