Jan 30, 2018 13:26 UTC
  • Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s now-murdered half-brother
    Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s now-murdered half-brother

The half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who was killed last February, met a United States national, possibly an intelligence agent, at a hotel in Malaysia four days before his death, the lead Malaysian investigator in the case says.

During the trial of two women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam on Monday, Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, the senior police investigator, testified that the victim had met an American man at a hotel on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on February 9.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of smearing Kim Jong-nam’s face with VX, a chemical nerve agent, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13 as he was waiting to board a plane to return home in the Chinese territory of Macau.

The women, who face the death penalty if convicted, pleaded not guilty, insisting that they were duped into believing that they were participating in a prank TV show.

At the Monday hearing, Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon-seng, questioned officer Che Wan Aziz about a report published last year in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun that Kim had met a US intelligence agent in the Malaysian island.

The police officer only agreed with the lawyer’s statement that Kim had met a “Korean-American based in Bangkok” in Langkawi.

According to police official, Kim arrived in Malaysia from Macau on February 6 before traveling to Langkawi two days later.

The officer, however, said that he was unable to reveal the US national’s identity.

A Malaysian forensics analysis of a laptop owned by Kim showed that it was last used on the day of the Langkawi meeting and that some data had been accessed from a USB pendrive connected to it that day.

The two women are the only suspects arrested in the killing of Kim. Investigators said several North Korean suspects had left Malaysia on the day of the attack. 

The trial resumed on Tuesday.

Malaysia and South Korea accused Pyongyang of being behind the killing, but the North has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing.

Kim’s death sparked a fierce diplomatic row between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang, with both countries expelling each other’s ambassadors. Malaysia also canceled a visa-free travel deal with North Korea.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, had been living in exile since 2003.