March 1, 2017: Two women implicated in the killing of the estranged brother of North Korea’s leader will be charged with murder shortly, Malaysia’s prosecutor says.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said the women – from Indonesia and Vietnam – would be formally charged and could face death if convicted.
The women allegedly smeared a deadly chemical over Kim Jong-nam’s face at a Malaysia airport earlier this month.
They have said they thought they were taking part in a TV prank.
“They will be charged in court under Section 302 of the penal code,” the attorney general said, which is a murder charge with a mandatory death sentence if found guilty.
He said no decision had yet been taken on whether to charge a North Korean man, Ri Jong Chol, who is also being held over the killing.
That “depends on the outcome of the police investigation, which is still ongoing”, Mr Apandi was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
The two women – Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Siti Aisyah from Indonesia – are among some 10 suspects identified by Malaysia as being involved in the killing.
The other suspects include a senior official at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur and a staff member of the state airline. South Korea believes at least four suspects are North Korean spies.
A high-level delegation from North Korea – led by the former ambassador to the UN – arrived in the Malaysian capital on Tuesday.
They said they were seeking the retrieval of the body and the release of Ri Jong Chol, as well as the “development of friendly relationships” between North Korea and Malaysia.
North Korea has not confirmed that the person killed on 13 February at Kuala Lumpur airport was Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of leader Kim Jong-un, saying only he was a North Korean travelling on a diplomatic passport.
Kim Jong-nam, 42, was at a check-in desk for a flight to Macau, where he lives, when he was accosted.
He was smeared with a very high amount of the toxic nerve agent VX and died in pain within 15-20 minutes, Malaysia’s health minister said on Sunday.
Who are Doan Thi Huong and Siti Aisyah?
Little is known for definite about Doan Thi Huong and Siti Aisyah except that they had left their homes in different parts of Asia and were trying to make a living in Malaysia.
Malaysian police officials described Ms Huong, a 28-year-old from Vietnam, as an “entertainment outlet employee” while Ms Siti, 25 from Indonesia, was working in a hotel massage parlour.
It is clear they lived precarious existences, reports the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes who has been researching the story.
Ms Huong’s Facebook page, in which she posted under the name Ruby Ruby, showed her posing in a number of selfies and glamour shots. There are rumours she once auditioned for Vietnam’s version of Pop Idol.
Her family said she left her home village in north Vietnam at 17 to study in the capital Hanoi, and had rarely returned home since. They said they were surprised to learn she was in Malaysia.
Her stepmother told BBC Vietnamese that the family were fed up with all the attention they had received but were grateful for the support of their neighbours.
“They are sympathetic because they don’t understand how a daughter of a family with high moral values like us could become like that,” Nguyen Thi Vy, 54, said.
Siti Aisyah was arrested for the killing along with her 26-year-old Malaysian boyfriend, who was later released on bail.
She told the Indonesian embassy officials that she thought she was taking part in a reality TV show, and had been paid 400 Malaysian ringgit ($90; Â£72) to smear what she thought was baby oil on to Mr Kim’s face.
Ms Siti was out partying with her friends the night before the killing. A friend, who spoke anonymously, said they had been celebrating her birthday, which had been the day before. Film footage purportedly from the evening shows her talking with friends about becoming an internet star.