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article imageN. Korean suspects named in Kim Jong-Nam murder trial

By AFP     Nov 6, 2017 in Crime

Four men suspected of plotting with two women to murder the North Korean leader's half-brother were Monday named by police as North Koreans who fled Malaysia after the assassination.

They were identified at the trial of Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, the women accused of killing Kim Jong-Nam on February 13 with nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in a hit that stunned the world.

The pair, who were arrested days after the assassination and face death by hanging if convicted, pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-Un when the trial began on October 2.

They say they were tricked into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show and their lawyers have blamed North Korean agents.

The charge sheet says four other individuals still at large are suspected of murdering Kim along with the women, but does not identify them.

On Monday Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, the main investigating officer, testified to the Shah Alam High Court outside Kuala Lumpur that the four were North Korean men who fled Malaysia after the murder.

They were known to the women by pseudonyms, he said.

Hong Song Hac, 34, was known as Mr. Chang; Ri Ji Hyon, 33, was known as Mr. Y; Ri Jae Nam, 57, was called Hanamori; and O Jong Gil was known as James.

An Interpol "red notice" was issued for the men after the murder at Malaysia's request. This alerts police in Interpol member countries to share information on the suspects with a view to potentially arresting and extraditing them to face justice.

CCTV footage of the men, who entered Malaysia between late January and early February, around the airport on the day of the murder has been shown in court.

They were seen changing their clothes after the murder before departing. Three of the men left Kuala Lumpur for Jakarta, Wan Azirul said, adding he could not recall the destination of the fourth.

The court also saw CCTV footage Monday of some of the North Korean suspects meeting a North Korean embassy official and an official from national airline Air Koryo at the airport's main terminal shortly after the attack.

Wan Azirul said he took statements from both officials, who were not named in court, after the murder.

"They explained that the reason they were there was to assist every North Korean individual or citizen who boarded a flight to leave the country," he told the court.

The murder sparked a furious row between North Korea and Malaysia, with the South blaming Pyongyang for ordering Kim's murder. North Korea has denied the allegation.

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