An Indonesian woman charged with murdering the half-brother of North Korea’s leader assured her parents in a letter read out in court Tuesday that she would be home soon, despite facing the death penalty if convicted.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Hoang, 28, appeared in a court in Sepang, Malaysia on Tuesday where a judge agreed to transfer their case to a higher court, as requested by the prosecution, but did not set a date for the opening of the trial.
“Don’t worry, you don’t need to come. Pray for me. This case will end before long and I will be able to come home,” an Indonesian embassy official said, reading aloud a letter Siti wrote to her parents back home in a village in West Java.
The divorced mother-of-one said she was in good health and asked her parents to give her regards to her 7-year-old son.
Shortly after their arrests, Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Hoang told police they were duped into killing Kim Jong Nam by “friends” who told them it was just a harmless prank for a reality show, according to news reports.
The two women arrived in Malaysia days before the assassination but had worked there previously at a spa center and an entertainment outlet, respectively.
Airport security cameras filmed them accosting Kim Jong Nam in the departure terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on the morning of Feb. 13, smearing something on his face and rapidly walking away in different directions.
Kim died about 15 minutes later en route to hospital. An autopsy later revealed that VX Nerve Agent, a banned chemical weapon, had killed him.
The two women were charged with his murder on March 1 along with “four others who are still at large,” a reference to four North Korean men filmed sitting at an airport restaurant with the women before the murder, who boarded planes out of the country later that day.
The assassination strained ties between Malaysia and North Korea, with both sides expelling their respective ambassadors and imposing exit bans on each other’s citizens, as they argued over the body and suspects holed up in the North Korean Embassy.
Tuesday, for the first time, the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur sent a representative to monitor the proceedings on its behalf.
Jagjit Singh, a high-powered Malaysian defense attorney, told reporters after the court session that he had been working with the North Koreans since March 2 and had helped three North Korean suspects holed up in the Embassy to return to their homeland.
“We worked behind the scenes, negotiating with the government on their behalf to send them back,” he said.
Malaysian officials had said that the three – Hyon Kwang Song, the second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur; Kim Uk Il, an employee of North Korean state airline Air Koryo; and Ri Ji U, reportedly a chemist – had been caught on CCTV camera at the airport where Kim was assassinated.
Kim’s body was flown to North Korea on March 30, after relatives declined to claim it, and the three North Korean suspects left the country the same day.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.