Attorneys for a Vietnamese woman standing trial for the murder of Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia tried Thursday to portray the lead investigator as not doing a thorough job, as the defense pressed forward its efforts to spare two defendants from the death penalty.
Under cross-examination by attorney Hisyam Teh Pok Teik, investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz acknowledged that he did not check Doan Thi Huong’s statement about staying at five different hotels in Malaysia prior to Kim’s death in February 2017.
Doan is standing trial at the Shah Alam High Court with Indonesian Siti Aisyah on charges of murdering Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, in a chemical weapon attack at a Kuala Lumpur area airport.
Reading from Doan’s 11-page statement as he questioned Wan Azirul, Hisyam told the court that Doan stayed at Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, 2017, and at Pearl International Hotel Kuala Lumpur from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2017. Neither of those stays was investigated by police, Hisyam said.
Doan’s defense team, which began questioning Wan Azirul on Wednesday afternoon, tried to present still photos from CCTV footage and photocopies of hotel guest registrations, but Judge Azmi Ariffin ruled that such evidence should be presented by prosecutors in original form.
Wan Azirul told the court that he chose not to investigate the hotels because he believed Doan was lying, although he did not specify which part of her statement was false.
Speaking to reporters following the court session, Hisyam said the lead investigator was not in any position to accuse his client of lying.
“It’s an open allegation. It’s very easy to openly allege that so-and-so lied,” Hisyam said. “One must appreciate that at the time Doan was making her statement, she purely relied on her memory and nothing else, and dates are easy for one not to remember exactly.”
At the time, she had to recall facts from memory, because police had confiscated her passport, mobile phone and travel documents, but evidence obtained from hotels appeared to show she had been truthful, he said.
“Supporting documents given to us by various hotels is to show that weight must be given to the statements of Doan supported by independent evidence … that are not investigated by the investigating officer, primarily on the grounds that he is not interested,” Hisyam said.
The trial is to reconvene on March 20.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.