Vietnamese, Indonesian women plead not guilty to killing N.Korean leader's half-brother

The two women 'pawns' facing death penalty over assassination of Kim Jong-un's brother

The two women charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, pleaded not guilty as their trial opened Monday in Malaysia, with the court expected to probe whether the North Korean government ordered the killing.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, are charged with murdering Kim Jong-nam at KLIA2 on Feb 13 by smearing his face with VX, a chemical the United States describes as a weapon of mass destruction.

The prosecution said in its charge sheet their actions showed "intent to kill the victim" by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim.

The pair claim they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show.

Lawyers for two women, who face the death penalty if convicted, asked the court to compel prosecutors to identify four people still at large mentioned in the charge sheet as having a common intention to kill Kim.

"Pyongyang wanted to send a worldwide message by murdering Kim Jong Nam in this gruesome, public way", researcher Nam Sung-wook said.

WHEN the Kim Jong-nam murder trial starts today, defence lawyers will start by asking one question: why weren't they allowed to speak to the three North Koreans allegedly implicated in the brazen assassination. "She is looking forward to the trial", said Hisyam.

Siti Aisyah (above, left) of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong (above, right) of Vietnam entered their pleas through interpreters at Shah Alam High Court, near the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Monday.

Prosecutors will now start to call their witnesses, with the first few likely to be medical experts to establish the cause of death.

North Korea has repeatedly and vehemently denied any involvement in the assassination of Kim.

The trial will be closely watched by the Indonesian and Vietnamese governments, which have hired lawyers to defend the women.

Police say neither Chang nor James were who they say they were. "We will reveal more during the trial", Iskandar said.

In a deal between Pyongyang and Putrajaya, the three, and Jong-nam's body, were exchanged for the return of nine Malaysians barred from leaving North Korea.

Several North Koreans suspected of also being involved left the country in the hours after the attack.

"I met her quite a number of times".

Her last post was on the morning of February 11, two days before the attack, from an area near the airport.

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