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Defence lays out history of pranks at trial into killing of Kim Jong-un's brother

Defence lays out history of pranks at trial into killing of Kim Jong-un's brother
From CBC - March 20, 2018

A woman accused of poisoning the North Korean leader's half-brother played a prank on a Vietnamese government official in Hanoi less than two weeks before the sensational killing, her lawyer told a Malaysian court on Tuesday.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong is charged, along with an Indonesian woman, Siti Aisyah, with killing Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13, 2017.

Defence lawyers say the women thought they were part of a prank reality show and did not know they were handling poison.

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 favour. It is thought he was assassinated because he was perceived to be a threat to the rule of his half brother, Kim Jong-un. Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim's death and have made it clear they do not want the trial politicized.

Hisyam Teh, Huong's lawyer, screened a closed-circuit television video recorded at Hanoi's international airport on Feb. 2, 2017, which showed her approaching a man from behind and putting her arms around his neck.

The man was a Vietnamese government official named Trinh Ngoc Linh, Teh told the court.

"[Linh] had given a statement to police saying that on that date, he had arrived in Hanoi from Singapore with his mother," Teh said, while questioning Wan Azirul Nizam, the lead police investigator in the case.

Linh would travel to Malaysia to testify if the defence needed him, Teh told reporters during a break in the hearing.

Alleged handler 'Mr. Y' not in custody

Teh also screened two videos showing Huong acting as the victim of pranks played by a Vietnamese filmmaker, Nguyen Manh Quang.

Quang, in an affidavit submitted to the court, said he had hired Huong to act in the videos, recorded in 2016.

"These videos explain why the accused identified herself as an actress," Teh said, citing Huong's statement to police.

In the statement, Huong said she was tricked into acting for a prank show by a man named Mr. Y, later identified as Ri Ji Hyon, one of four North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the day of the killing. None of the four has been returned to Malaysia to face charges.

The court heard that Huong was told by Mr. Y that the video on Feb. 13 would be important because it would be uploaded on YouTube. She told police she was not able to contact Mr. Y after that. She returned to the airport two days later to carry out another prank but there was no sign of Mr. Y and she was detained at the airport.

Claimed no ill effects from new substance

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