Malaysia court rules Kim Jong-nam assassination trial can proceed

REMOVES REFERENCE TO RE-ENACTMENT- Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police as she arrives at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang Malaysia Tuesday Oct. 24 2017. The two women accused of killing Kim Jong Nam the North Korean leader

REMOVES REFERENCE TO RE-ENACTMENT- Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is escorted by police as she arrives at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang Malaysia Tuesday Oct. 24 2017. The two women accused of killing Kim Jong Nam the North Korean leader

Kim Jong-nam died at Kuala Lumpur's airport a year ago after the toxic VX nerve agent was rubbed on his face.

The Malaysian judge in the Kim Jong Nam case said he can not rule out the possibility the killing was a political assassination.

"I must accordingly find that the prosecution has established a prima facie and I must therefore call upon the accused to enter their defence", High Court judge Datuk Azmi Ariffin said in his court ruling.

They could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un, had been waiting to board a flight to Macau on 13 February past year when two women approached him in the departure area.

The pair claim they fell victim to an elaborate murder plot hatched by North Korean agents, and believed they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show when they attacked Kim with a chemical classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

They say the prosecution failed to show the two women had any intention to kill - key to establishing the women are guilty of murder.

"The sole objective of a prank is fun with no intention to cause any type of harm. the use of the word suggests that the act must get everyone laughing at the end, even the target,"Azmi told the court".

Defence lawyers had earlier been confident that the case against their clients would be dropped, saying it was clear they had no motive to kill Mr Kim. Huong did not react.

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Huong "could never be a killer as she had always been a charming, hard-working girl", Doan Van Thanh, the Vietnamese suspect's father, told AFP.

If the judge decides the evidence is insufficient, the case will be dismissed and both women acquitted and deported.

Besides the sensational statement, the judge also ruled that a trial against two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, charged with the murder would continue.

The prosecution wrapped up closing arguments in June at the court on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, based on testimony from 34 witnesses.

Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana, who was present in court, said his government respected the court's decision against Siti Aisyah.

The trial at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur, heard that four North Koreans recruited the pair and were the masterminds, providing them with the poison on the day of the murder before flying out of the country.

Pyongyang has denied accusations by South Korean and U.S. officials that Kim Jong Un's regime was behind the killing.

The trial has seen CCTV footage of Huong coming up behind Kim as he waited to check in for his flight to Macau, and clasping her hands on his face.

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