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

The women arrived at the court in Sham Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, under heavy police guard and wearing bullet proof vests, and were ushered past a pack of waiting journalists. - The Malaysian Insight pic by Najjua Zulkefli, August 16, 2018.

He refuses to believe that "affable and kind" Doan Thi Huong could kill anyone, in line with defence arguments that she was tricked into the assassination along with her co-accused, Indonesian Siti Aisyah.

Judge Azmi said Doan's actions were "very strange" and determined the two women's conduct did not constitute a "prank".

Four North Korean men have also been charged as part of the death, but they left Malaysia the morning of the attack and remain at large.

Aisyah, 25, and Huong, 29, told the court they would testify under oath in their defense.

They could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

While Azmi did not rule out the possibility that the killing could have been a political assassination, there was insufficient evidence to prove it, he added.

Ambassador Rusdi Kirana told reporters that his government will abide by the ruling. They had insisted that prosecutors have not shown they meant to kill Kim, who had been living in exile for a decade since falling out of favour with the North's ruling family.

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The women are accused of killing Kim Jong Nam - once seen as an heir to the North Korean leadership and a rival to current leader Kim Jong Un - by smearing toxic VX on his face in February past year as he waited to board a flight to Macau.

But a judge on Thursday ruled that the actions of the two women - which were captured on security camera footage - were enough to infer that they had meant to kill him. If they are acquitted, they may not be freed right away as prosecutors could appeal as well as push forward with separate charges for overstaying their visas. Video recordings played in court showed them meeting two of the fugitives at the airport before the attack.

Kim died on February 13, 2017, about half an hour after the two suspects approached him at the airport departure terminal, where he was going to take a flight to Macau.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "at an early date", the North's state media reported Wednesday, amid a rapid diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.

"I love my daughter and miss her, but there's nothing I can do", said Thanh, 64, who works as a cleaner and carpark attendant at a nearby market.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicized.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the killing.

"The U.S.is unjustly intervening in the internal affairs of our nation and the inter-Korean relationship, hindering the reconciliation, unity, dialogue and cooperation between Koreas", said the paper.

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