SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — Prosecutors showed a Malaysian court airport security videos on Thursday that detail the movements of four North Korean suspects who allegedly planned and helped two women — now facing possible death sentences — kill Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother.
Police chief investigating officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz told the court that one of the suspects, known only as “Hanamori,” was believed to be the mastermind of Kim Jong Nam’s death. He said security footage from the Kuala Lumpur airport showed the four men before and after the Feb. 13 attack.
Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian defendant Siti Aisyah are the only two people in custody. They pleaded not guilty to murder charges when their trial began Oct. 2.
Wan Azirul testified earlier that the four male suspects at large were known only by pseudonyms. Prosecutors have said outside court that the four are believe to be North Koreans.
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“My investigation showed that Hanamori played the role as the mastermind of this incident,” he said. Hanamori was also known as “Grandpa” or “Uncle.”
Wan Azirul said Hanamori arrived at the airport in the same vehicle with two others known as “Mr. Chang” and “Mr. Y” about 90 minutes before the attack. Security videos then showed Hanamori meeting separately with each of the men as well as a third person known only as “James” at an airport cafe before the attack on Kim.
Chang later met up with Aisyah at the same cafe, while Mr. Y was seen walking around the airport with Huong near the area where Kim was attacked. The two men wore baseball caps and had backpacks. Mr. Y was seen holding a water bottle, while Chang was also carrying a white plastic bag.
After the two women rubbed Kim’s face with a liquid later identified as VX nerve agent, video footage showed that Chang and Mr. Y had changed their shirts and ditched their caps and backpacks. Wan Azirul said Hanamori also changed his shirt and Chang shaved off his goatee.
He said the two men then left the budget terminal in the same vehicle with Hanamori heading to the main airport terminal.
Meanwhile, James was seen heading to the Sama-Sama airport hotel after the attack. The police official said security videos showed James entering the hotel room before checking out and he later was seen at the departure hall of the main airport terminal together with the other three men.
Wan Azirul previously testified Mr. Y and Chang were believed to have put liquid on the women’s hands before they smeared it on Kim’s face, and that James was the recruiter of Aisyah. Defense attorneys have said the women believed they were participating in a prank for a TV show but prosecutors have said the women knew they were handling poison.
The trial was cut short after the judge said he wanted to review the videos and will resume on Nov. 6.
Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, told reporters before the trial that she was recruited in early January by a North Korean man known to her only as James to star in what he said were video prank shows. The lawyer said James and Aisyah went to malls, hotels and airports, where she would rub oil or pepper sauce on strangers’ faces. James recorded the encounters on his phone and paid Aisyah between $100 and $200 for each prank.
James later introduced Aisyah to a man he allegedly called Chang, who introduced himself as a producer of Chinese video prank shows, Gooi said. On the day of Kim’s death, Chang had pointed Kim out to Aisyah as the next target and put the substance in her hand, Gooi said.
Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea, but South Korea’s spy agency has claimed the attack was part of a plot by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to kill a brother he reportedly never met. Kim Jong Nam was a virtual exile not known to have actively been seeking influence over his younger brother, but had years earlier spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic rule.