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October trial date for women accused of murdering Kim Jong Nam

Two women accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will stand trial in October.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of smearing Kim Jong Nam's face with the banned VX nerve agent at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on February 13.

Mr Kim died about 20 minutes later.

The women, who face a possible death penalty if convicted, say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show.

Judge Azmi Ariffin estimated the trial would last for two months.

The women appeared in court in Shah Alam wearing traditional Malay dresses, smiling at their lawyers and embassy officials. They were handcuffed as they were led to the dock.

But after the judge left the room, Aisyah was in tears as her lawyer debriefed her.

The two women are the only suspects in custody in a killing that South Korea's spy agency said was part of a five-year plot by Kim Jong Un to kill a brother he reportedly never met.

Malaysian police have said four North Korean suspects fled the country on the same day Kim Jong Nam was killed.

North Korea has a history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime.

While Kim Jong Nam was not thought to be seeking influence, his status as eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's founding family could have made him appear to be a danger to his half brother's rule.

Pyongyang has denied any role in the killing and has not even acknowledged that the dead man was Kim Jong Nam.

AP

Aisyah's lawyer Gooi Soon Seng told reporters "traces of precursors of VX and degrading products of VX" were found on Mr Kim's face and the women's clothing based on government documents.

He said the defence had to engage expert opinion to establish if this meant that the poison used was VX or some other chemical.

"We have doubts over the accuracy of the report. We are seeking evidence that VX is used. The burden of proof is on the prosecution," he said.

Whether VX or not, Mr Gooi said the core defence was that Aisyah did not know she had poison on her hand at the time.

"A crime constitutes an act and a guilty intention. There was no guilty intention on her part. She didn't know what she was applying," he said.

AP

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