09:40 GMT30 September 2020
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    Two women accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pleaded not guilty to charges in a Malaysian court on Monday.

    Kyodo reports that the trial over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, started at Shah Alam High Court, outside the capital Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

    Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 29, are charged with murdering Kim Jong-nam by smearing his face with VX, a toxic nerve agent prohibited by the United Nations, when he was waiting to board the plane at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on February 13. Kim Jong-Nam died an awful death 20 minutes after the attack as a chemical poison hit his nervous system.

    Both women, after the murder charge was read to them in their native languages, indicated through interpreters that they were pleading not guilty. They claimed that they were fooled into believing that they were playing a prank for a TV show. Women face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

    Kim Jong-nam assassination immediately turned into a political issue as it caused a great scandal between North Korea and one of its rare allies, Malaysia. Both countries expelled each other's ambassadors.

    In the course of the investigation suspicions fell on North Korea, however, Pyongyang has repeatedly denied its involvement in the murder saying the accusations were prompted by the aggressive campaign against North Korean nuclear program. At the same time Pyongyang claimed that the assassination could benefit South Korea amid the corruption row over its President Park Geun-hye.

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    Tags:
    assassination, Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Malaysia, South Korea
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