- Judge says evidence points to a 'well- planned conspiracy'
- The trial set to resume in November and go on for several months
The murder trial of two women accused of assassinating the half-brother of North Korea's leader can proceed, a Malaysian court ruled yesterday, in a blow to their families who insist the pair were tricked into carrying out the dramatic hit.
After hearing the prosecution case, the judge said there was sufficient evidence to support a murder charge against Siti Aisyah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, accused of murdering Kim Jong Nam with nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Judge Azmi Ariffin said the evidence presented in court since the trial started in October pointed to a "well-planned conspiracy" with a group of North Korean suspects who are still at large.
"I must therefore call upon (the suspects) to enter their defence on their respective charges," he said at the Shah Alam High Court outside Kuala Lumpur.
The women, who are set to testify during the defence stage of the trial, looked shocked and tearful as the ruling was handed down. The judge could have chosen to acquit the women if he thought the evidence was insufficient.
Their families maintain the pair were fooled into carrying out the Cold War-style killing, and had been hopeful they would be acquitted, although state prosecutors insisted they had a strong case.
"She knows nothing, she was fooled. The case (against her) was made up," Aisyah's father, Asria, told AFP from the family's village on Indonesia's Java island.
Her mother Benah added: "This is unfair. I wanted her to be released today but if the court refuses what can I do? I can only pray for the final verdict."
The trial is set to resume in November and go on for several months. Aisyah, 26, will be the first witness to take the stand when proceedings restart.