December 18, 2018 / 10:35 AM / 3 months ago

Malaysia airport VX poison trial suspended over witness statements

FILE PHOTO - Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, is escorted as she leaves the Shah Alam High Court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian court on Tuesday suspended the trial of a woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea’s leader as her lawyers sought more time to seek written statements from witnesses.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 26, is charged along with Doan Thi Huong, a 30-year-old Vietnamese, of poisoning Kim Jong Nam with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Siti Aisyah was originally set to take the stand in January, after the court ruled in August that prosecutors had successfully established a case against her and Huong.

But the trial judge on Tuesday ordered a stay to allow her lawyer to appeal a court decision not to compel prosecutors to turn over copies of statements made by seven witnesses.

Siti Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, said the documents were vital to her case, as five of the witnesses had gone missing.

“Without the police statements, it would compromise my client’s defence and be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice,” Gooi told reporters.

The court set Dec. 21 to decide whether the trial would continue with Huong’s defence or be postponed until Siti Aisyah’s appeal has concluded.

Defence lawyers have said the women thought they were playing pranks for a reality TV show and did not know they were poisoning Kim.

Kim Jong Nam, who was living in exile in Macau, had criticised his family’s dynastic rule of North Korea. Some South Korean lawmakers say the regime of his half-brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had ordered his execution. Pyongyang has denied the accusation.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Nick Macfie

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