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martes, 13 de febrero de 2018

Masterminds behind North Korean assassination still at large; two women face murder trial instead

In recent days, the western media inexplicably fawned over the odious dictators of North Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics, especially Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong Un. Perhaps they saw it as a way to “resist” the current U.S. administration?

As journalists portray a critical member of North Korea’s brutally repressive regime as a charming “princess,” North Korea itself is responsible for a high-profile case involving two women accused of assassinating Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother: Kim Jong Nam. But the only suspects who currently face the gallows are the two women who say they were innocent pawns — while the suspected masterminds of the plot are still at large. 

The Target

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of former leader Kim Jong Il. It was believed for a long time that the 46-year-old son would succeed his father, but he had a falling out with the family, and Kim Jong-un quickly climbed the ladder.

This made Nam a natural target of his brother.

Last year, two women, Vietnam’s Doan Thi Huong and Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah, were arrested for allegedly smearing Kim Jong Nam’s face with a VX nerve agent, a poison developed for military use. The poison killed him two hours later.

The women have maintained since October that they were hoodwinked into playing a harmless trick for a hidden-camera show called Ri Ji U, according to ABC News.

Thi Huong and Aisyah say they escaped from rural poverty to find employment in Malaysia’s nightlife scene.

The Case and Trial

While finding work in Kuala Lumpur, Aisyah was tapped to act in prank shows at airports, hotels, and shopping malls weeks prior to the killing, claims her attorney, Gooi Soon Seng.

Citing mobile text messages and phone calls to a man named James, who posed as a Japanese producer, the attorney argues that the correspondence is consistent with his client’s statements.

But were these women the sole actors in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam? Both prosecutors and defendants don’t think the two acted alone; they suspect four other men who cannot be located.

It is more than a little difficult to prosecute a case, however, if the suspects are missing. Moreover, it is even more difficult to find the truth if the attorneys’ probes are being stifled by authorities.

Seng said in a statement:

People may lie but circumstances will not lie. We are telling the court that this girl was tricked into playing pranks and persuaded to go to the airport on Feb. 13. It’s up to the prosecution to prove murder.

As long as the North Korean suspects are away, the actual truth will never be proven. I sincerely believe that the girls should be acquitted because we have clearly shown that they are being used as scapegoats.

A lot of damage has been done and defense has been compromised over time.

The trial will recommence on February 22, and it is expected the case will end by May at the latest. Should the defendants be found guilty, they would be sentenced to mandatory hanging.

Is Malaysia Stifling the Trial?

Four North Korean suspects were caught on airport security cameras tossing away their possessions and changing their clothes soon after the attack took place. In addition, an employee at the North Korean Embassy aided the four men by helping them get flights and using the name of a citizen to purchase a vehicle to take the suspects to the airport.

This would typically lead to the trial’s dismissal, but Malaysian officials seem to want nothing to do with this evidence.

Officials have made it clear that they do not want the trial to be politicized. Rather than attaching North Korea’s involvement to the victim’s death, Malaysian prosecutors have been only trying to prove the womens’ guilt. They have focused on footage suggesting the women knew they were handling poison since they were running to the washroom and extending their hands away from their bodies following the attack.

The defense accused the chief police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz of maintaining a lopsided investigation. During cross examination, Wan Azirul evaded important points during questioning, repeatedly claiming he could not remember specific details.

Malaysian-North Korean relations were severely damaged by the assassination. But experts predict their relationship will return to normal once the case is concluded.

James Chin, director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania in Australia, told The Japan Times:

The Malaysian government wants it all to go away by trying to rush the trial and end it. Once everything is under the bridge, which will take years, Malaysia and North Korea will likely resume normal relations. The Kim Jong Nam case will be just another footnote in history.

The next time media celebrates North Korean cheerleaders and the nation’s “charm offensive,” be sure to remember that, among its many crimes against its own people, North Korea is currently complicit in scapegoating two innocent women who may well hang for having committed no crime.