trial

The Fraught Trial of Two Women Accused of Killing Kim Jong Nam Is About to Resume in Malaysia

(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — Malaysia’s high-profile trial of two women accused of killing the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader resumes Monday after a seven-week recess, with defense lawyers saying their efforts have been stymied by missing links.

Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnam’s Doan Thi Huong, 29, are accused of smearing a nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur last Feb. 13. The two are the only suspects in custody, though prosecutors have said four North Koreans who fled the country were also involved.

Prosecutors have focused on proving the women’s guilt but shied away from scrutinizing any political motive behind the killing.

Gooi Soon Seng, the lawyer for Siti Aisyah, said the defense will seek to shift the focus to the North Koreans but their case is largely crippled by the lack of crucial evidence such as the content of Kim Jong Nam’s mobile phone, which could provide clues on why he was killed. Prosecutors say the phone and most of his belongings, along with Kim’s body, were returned to North Korea in the days after his murder.

“The content of his phone is vital because it could show how he arrived at the airport, who he linked up with in Malaysia, what actually happened. Until now, there is no evidence of possible debts, love affairs or revenge that could cause someone to take his life. We are saying it’s a political assassination because of the involvement of the North Korean Embassy,” Gooi told The Associated Press.

A police witness has testified that a car used to take the North Korean suspects to the airport on the day of the murder belonged to the embassy. The court also heard that an embassy official met the suspects before they fled and facilitated their check-in at the airport.

Here’s a look at the evidence that has emerged since the trial began in October.

The victim

Kim Jong Nam was seen on airport security video being approached by two women who appear to smear something on his face. The footage showed Kim gesturing for help before he suffered seizures. He was dead within two hours.

An autopsy showed the banned VX nerve agent was found on Kim’s face and in his eyes, blood and urine, and other tests found it on his clothing and bag. His brain, lungs, liver and spleen were damaged. Doctors concluded the cause of death was “acute VX nerve agent poisoning,” and ruled out any other contributing factors.

Police testified Kim was carrying eight currencies, including $ 124,000. Ironically, he also carried a known antidote for nerve agents.

Kim, the eldest son in the family that has ruled North Korea since its founding, had been living abroad for years after falling out of favor. It is thought he could have been seen as a threat to his half brother Kim Jong Un’s rule.

The defendants

If they are convicted, the two women could face the death penalty but not if they lacked intent to kill. That is their defense.

The court has heard that traces of VX were found on the women’s clothing as well as on Huong’s fingernails. A government chemist testified that VX was a “strategic” choice of poison because it doesn’t evaporate quickly and a victim could be targeted without affecting the surroundings.

The chemist told the court that rubbing VX on a person’s eye would be the fastest way to kill because the eyes have no barrier like the skin. He said the palm is the least sensitive area and VX can be safely washed from the hand within 15 minutes of exposure, which could explain why the women weren’t affected.

Prosecutors contend the women knew they were handling poison and deliberately rushed to wash their hands after the attack. Security footage shows both holding their hands away from their bodies as they hurry to separate restrooms.

Defense lawyers argued that the women didn’t flee the country or discard their clothing, indicating they didn’t know they were handling poison. They say the women believed they were playing a prank for a hidden-camera TV show.

The North Koreans

Police have told the court that several North Korean men helped plot the attack, including a man one of the women says hired her to stage pranks. The four men left Malaysia on the day of the killing. North Korea has denied any involvement.

A police investigator identified the four as Hong Song Hac, Ri Ji Hyon, Ri Jae Nam and O Jong Gil. On Malaysia’s request, Interpol has issued wanted notices for the men, who are believed to be back in Pyongyang, but North Korea is not a member of the organization.

Airport security video played in the courtroom showed all four discarding their belongings and changing their outfits after the attack. They were then seen meeting North Korean Embassy official Hyong Kwang Song and Air Koryo official Kim Uk-Il in another part of the airport before flying out of the country.

The embassy and officials of Air Koryo, North Korea’s state airline, have told police it was their duty to assist North Korean citizens leaving the country. Those two and another North Korean whom police were seeking to question were allowed to leave the country along with Kim Jong Nam’s body in March in exchange for the release of nine Malaysians stuck in North Korea.

The court heard that Hong Song Hac orchestrated the operation on the ground.

What’s next?

When the trial resumes, defense lawyers are to cross-examine the chief police investigator, viewed as the most important witness.

They are expected to ask him about the role of North Korean chemist Ri Jong Chol, who was detained shortly after the killing but was released due to lack of evidence and deported. Defense lawyers said Ri, who had used a North Korean Embassy car since 2015, was a key suspect and his house could have been used to make the nerve agent used in the killing.

However, Siti’s lawyer Gooi said he needed more time to analyze the content of mobile phones and laptops belonging to Ri and suggested prosecutors may instead continue with other witnesses in next week’s three-day hearing.

Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin told the AP that the defense had ample time to prepare and that prosecutors won’t call any new witnesses until the defense finishes questioning the police investigator. The judge will likely have to decide the conflict.

Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim’s death and have made it clear they don’t want the trial politicized.

So far, 26 witnesses have testified. Prosecutors have about a dozen more minor witnesses to call before they are expected to rest their case in March. The judge could then decide that there is no case against the women, who will be freed, or to let the case continue. If that’s his decision, the defense will be called and the trial will continue for several more months.


TIME

Bill Cosby Is In ‘Good Spirits’ While Awaiting Verdict on Sexual Assault Trial

Bill Cosby is staying hopeful while awaiting the verdict on his highly-publicized sexual assault trial.

"Mr. Cosby is in good spirits and feels that these jurors are

This article originally appeared on www.usmagazine.com: Bill Cosby Is In ‘Good Spirits’ While Awaiting Verdict on Sexual Assault Trial

Us Weekly Latest Celebrity News

Keshia Knight Pulliam Defends Her Support Of TV Dad Bill Cosby Amid His Criminal Trial: ‘This Is Where The Truth Happens’

Keshia Knight Pulliam is standing by TV dad Bill Cosby.

As we previously reported, the former child star (who famously played Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show) made her support for the scandalized comedian known as she accompanied him to court on the first day of his sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania. Oh man.

Related: Cosby Breaks Silence On His ‘Nefarious’ Accusers Ahead Of Trial

Not only did the 38-year-old walk arm-in-arm into the courthouse with the Emmy winner, but she also spoke to the press in order to defend her support of Mr. Cosby. In case you forgot, June 5 kicked off the 79-year-old’s criminal trial for allegedly drugging and raping Andrea Constand back in 2005. To make matters worse, Miz Constand joins at least 50 other women who’ve accused the industry vet of assault.

The stand-up comedian has vehemently denied the allegations. This is where Rudy, *ehm* excuse us, Keshia comes into play. On why she joined Bill at court, the mother-of-one explained:

“I came to support because this is where you hear the facts. This is where the truth happens. Ultimately, it’s easy to support someone and to be in their corner when things are great. But true family, friendship, integrity is how people show up and support when things aren’t looking so great, when they aren’t shining.”

Huh. We wonder if Keshia will be so loyal once the rough details from the trial come out?? We mean, Keshia already appears to be wavering a bit. After revealing that she’ll “accept whatever verdict” the jury hands down, Knight Pulliam added:

“Right now, it’s the jury’s decision, and it’s the jury’s job to decide guilt and innocence. It’s not mine or anyone else’s. As an advocate for women and with my nonprofit the Kamp Kizzy Foundation, which is all about empowerment, self-esteem for girls, I don’t take these charges lightly. I don’t condone sexual assault in any way shape or form.”

Girl, we think you’re sending mixed messages. Nonetheless, Keshia (like the rest of us) just wants to learn the truth. She concluded:

“My truth was to be here and to be supportive, and it’s not always easy to do what you feel is truthful and what you feel is right when there’s so much controversy. But ultimately, that’s just how I’ve lived my life—in terms of being very genuine and authentic to who I am. And I can’t stop doing that now. I just pray for all parties involved because this isn’t a great situation. No matter what side of the coin you’re on.”

Cosby was certainly grateful to have Keshia’s support as he praised his TV daughter on Twitter. The controversial A-lister wrote:

Phylicia Rashad, Cosby’s longtime on-screen wife, also stood by his side during day one of the trial. *sigh*

Be sure to check back HERE for any and all updates surrounding Cosby’s criminal trial.

[Image via Twitter.]

PerezHilton

Bill Cosby Breaks Silence On His ‘Nefarious’ Accusers Ahead Of Trial — As Zoë Kravitz Reveals Mom Lisa Bonet Wasn’t Surprised By The Scandal!

Bill Cosby has remained tight-lipped on his sexual assault allegations ever since the explosive lawsuit was filed against him two years ago.

While the disgraced comedian didn’t say too much about the controversy when he recently sat down with Michael Smerconish, he did agree that racism “could” have played a role in the career-ending scandal.

In an interview that aired on Tuesday, the 79-year-old tiptoed around the subject brought up by the SiriusXM host, who mentioned Evin Cosby‘s recent claim that “racism has played a big role in all aspects of this scandal.”

Related: Taylor Swift Hopes THIS Will Sway Her Groping Lawsuit!

When asked if he agreed with his daughter, the fallen actor said racism “could be” involved, continuing:

“I can’t say anything, but there are certain things that I look at, and I apply to the situation, and there are so many tentacles. So many different — nefarious is a great word. And I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that.”

Nefarious is a great word, Bill — but we don’t think the journey would use it to describe the women allegedly given quaalude cocktails.

Smerconish didn’t hesitate to mention the fact that both black and white women were among Cosby’s accusers — to which Cosby answered:

“Let me put it to you this way: When you look at the power structure, and when you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they’re going to work. Or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone. So if it’s in terms of whatever the choice is, I think that you can also examine individuals and situations and they will come out differently… So it’s not all, not every, but I do think that there’s some.”

So, he’s implying that a portion of his accusers — nearly 60 women — are in it for “nefarious” purposes? Or is he just completely talking out of ass at this point?

Related: Zoë Kravitz Gets Honest About Her Hollywood Connections

This rare interview comes weeks ahead of Cosby’s criminal trial. While his real life daughters are sticking by his side, his TV daughter Lisa Bonet has kept incredibly quiet on the subject.

Bonet’s daughter Zoë Kravitz touched on the Cosby subject in a recent interview with Allure, admitting her mom wasn’t “incredibly surprised” about the scandal — but nonetheless, it still “bummed her out.” She explained:

“I think she didn’t like hearing that. It bummed her out. Though she didn’t seem incredibly surprised about it. I don’t think she wants to hear about anyone being abused, especially by someone she spent so much time with. It feels shitty. You want to shower.”

We can only imagine! Ick!

Take a listen to clips of Cosby’s interview (below).

[Image via NBC/WENN.]

PerezHilton