Police testimony shows Malaysia could have tracked down 4 wanted North Koreans sooner: Lawyer

Police testimony shows Malaysia could have tracked down 4 wanted North Koreans sooner: Lawyer

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia: Defence lawyers for two women accused of the murder of Kim Jong Nam say Malaysian police could have tracked down and arrested four North Koreans now at large as soon as a day after he was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), based on witness testimony on Tuesday (Nov 7).

The four North Korean men suspected of plotting with Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong to murder North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother were named by police on Monday.

Investigating officer Wan Azizul Nizam had said earlier on in the trial that he had not had sufficient information to arrest the men sooner.

However, when he was questioned by the defence, he revealed he had seen footage of the suspects on Feb 14, the day after Kim Jong Nam was killed - including footage of them being checked into flights by an Air Koryo employee.

"They said they only got the names of these four people, (who went by) Chang, Hanamori, Mr Y and James, on the 17th from Bukit Aman (police headquarters)," said Gooi Soon Seng, lead counsel for Siti Aisyah.

"We are trying to establish that before the 17th they already knew who these four people are."

Gooi added that "a lot of things" could have been done by authorities.

"If you knew which flight they are going on and from which route, Interpol could have been alerted. Red Alert could have been sent and the four people could have been detained elsewhere."

Lawyers said the investigating officer could have obtained the passenger manifest to track the four North Koreans down immediately. 

Wan Azizul told the court he had indeed received the manifest but could not remember when.

He said he had only obtained full details of the four men from Malaysia's Special Branch intelligence agency four days later.

Wan Azirul had identified the men based on that intelligence as North Koreans Hong Song Hac, Ri Ji Hyon, Ri Jae Nam and O Jong Gi.

The four were seen at KLIA2 before and after the incident before heading to KLIA, where three of them met a North Korean embassy official within an hour of the attack.

On Tuesday, lawyers established that all four men changed clothes and may have disposed of possessions after the incident.

"All this has been established to show their guilty conduct after," Gooi told reporters.

He also questioned the investigating officer's credibility as a witness.

The trial was held up for two hours after the judge directed Wan Azizul to collect his notebook with details of the investigation, which the officer said he had left at his station.

He has also been directed to hand over all documents relevant to his investigation to the defence - including the flight manifest - after the defence lawyers complained they had not received this information.

Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong pleaded not guilty to murdering the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un when the trial began on Oct 2.

They say they were tricked into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show and their lawyers have blamed North Korean agents.

Source: CNA/Agencies/nc