Trial Opens for Women Accused of Killing Half-Brother of Kim Jong Un

Two women accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea’s leader have gone on trial in Malaysia.

Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam told the court they are not guilty.

They are accused of spreading a poison on Kim Jong Nam’s face to kill him. The incident took place February 13 at Kuala Lumpur’s main airport.

Kim Jong Nam is the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader.

The women told the court that they thought they were taking part in a television prank show that used hidden cameras. They say they believed at the time that the action was harmless.

Four witnesses spoke to the court Monday. They told about their interactions with Kim shortly after he started complaining of health problems at the airport.

Several North Koreans suspected of involvement in Kim’s death left Malaysia soon after the incident.

Three other suspects who were at North Korea’s embassy were permitted to leave the country after reaching an agreement with Malaysia.

The killing led to weeks of tensions between Malaysia and North Korea.

Government lawyers are expected to take two months to present evidence. After that, a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to require the defendants to present a defense, said the lawyer for Huong.

The two women could face a death sentence if found guilty.

Efforts to pressure North Korea continue

The trial of the two women begins as diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to end its banned weapons programs continue.

In Beijing Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was communicating with North Korea. He suggested the country had shown interest in talks.

However, a State Department spokeswoman later suggested that North Korea had shown no such interest.

In a tweet on the social media network Twitter, the president suggested that Tillerson was “wasting his time” in trying to negotiate with the North Korean leader.

Trump also suggested in other tweets that 25 years of policy toward North Korea had failed. “Clinton failed, Bush failed, Obama failed. I won’t fail,” he wrote.

Trump is to visit China, Japan and South Korea on a major trip to Asia in November. The issue of North Korea’s weapons programs is expected to be an important subject of discussion during meetings with Asian leaders.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Mario Ritter adapted this story for VOA Learning English from an Associated Press report. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

prank –n. a trick done to someone as a joke

indication –n. a sign that shows something

channels –n. ways or paths of communication