Two women face the death penalty over the murder of Kim Jong Un's half-brother

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Malaysian authorities have charged two women with murder following the sudden death Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur airport a fortnight ago.

Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, and Siti Aisyah, 25, from Indonesian face the death penalty if convicted.

Kim was poisoned by VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction. He fell ill soon after a white cloth was held briefly over his face at the airport on February 13 and died in transit to hospital. The women were arrested separately a few days later and claimed that they thought they were taking part in a reality TV show prank.

The Straits Times reports that an interpreter read out the charges and Doan responded: “I understand but I’m not guilty.”

No pleas were entered because the hearing was not in the right jurisdiction. The matter is due for a second hearing on April 13.

Kim was using the alias Kim Chol, and heading to Macau when he was attacked. While US authorities believe the dictator’s estranged half-brother, a fierce critic of his homeland, was assassinated by the regime, Pyongyang denies it.

Malaysian police want to speak to several North Koreans, including a diplomat at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, an Air Koryo employee, and a North Korean living in Malaysia, but believe they have already fled the country. One North Korean is currently being held for questioning.

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