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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Kim Jong-nam murder trial witnesses say CCTV footage authentic

Security videos captured the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother at Kuala Lumpur's international airport last year

This screengrab from CCTV footage obtained by Fuji TV shows Kim Jong-Nam, the North Korean leader's half brother, speaking to airport authorities at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Fuji TV / AFP
This screengrab from CCTV footage obtained by Fuji TV shows Kim Jong-Nam, the North Korean leader's half brother, speaking to airport authorities at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Fuji TV / AFP

Witnesses took to the stand on Monday to verify the authenticity of CCTV footage that captured the killing of the North Korean leader's estranged half brother, in the trial of two women accused of carrying out the attack.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnam's Doan Thi Huong, 29, are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam's face in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on February 13 last year. They pleaded not guilty to murder charges when their trial began on October 2. They are the only suspects in custody, although prosecutors have said four North Koreans who fled the country were also involved.

Prosecutors, who last year showed the security videos to the court, called three technicians from the airport and the airport hotel to the stand to explain how they extracted the relevant images from the main computer server and copied them to discs. This was to enable the court to accept the footage as formal evidence.

The court heard that the original footage in the main server have been automatically deleted after 30 days.

"Their whole case is based on the CCTV footages and VX, so the admissibility of the footages is very important. But they are taking a very simplistic approach and have failed to examine if the women have any motive," said Gooi Soon Seng, Ms Siti Aisyah's lawyer.

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Defence lawyers say the two women believed they were taking part in a prank for a hidden-camera television show. But prosecutors argue that they knew they were handling poison.

Mr Gooi has said Kim's killing was a political assassination because of the involvement of the North Korean embassy. A police witness has testified that a car used to take the North Korean suspects to the airport on the day of the murder belonged to the embassy. The court also heard that an embassy official met the suspects before they fled and facilitated their check-in at the airport.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim's death, however, and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicised.

If they are convicted, the two women could face the death penalty — although not if they lacked intent to kill, which is their defence.

The court has heard that traces of VX were found on the women's clothing as well as on Ms Huong's fingernails. A post-mortem examination showed VX on Kim's face and in his eyes, blood and urine as well as on his clothing and bag. Doctors concluded the cause of death was "acute VX nerve agent poisoning", and ruled out any other contributing factors.

Kim, the eldest son in the family that has ruled North Korea since its founding, had been living abroad for years after falling out of favour. It is thought he could have been seen as a threat to Kim Jong Un's rule.

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