In Kim Jong-nam Case, Women’s Lawyers Denounce North Koreans’ Release
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The two women who claim they were tricked into assassinating the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader appeared in court Thursday, where their lawyers argued that Malaysia’s decision to free three North Korean suspects ended any chance of bringing the real culprits to justice.
The prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, allowed the three suspects to leave the country two weeks ago in a deal his government negotiated with North Korea, making the women, one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam, the only suspects likely to be charged in the killing.
“That’s tantamount to a miscarriage of justice,” said Gooi Soon Seng, the lawyer representing the accused Indonesian, Siti Aisyah, in an interview after the court hearing. “The two girls are mere scapegoats. They are naïve girls who have been used by these people.”
“这无异于正义的失败，”印度尼西亚人西蒂·艾莎(Siti Aisyah)的代理律师魏顺成（Gooi Soon Seng，音）在法庭聆讯结束后接受采访时说。“这两个姑娘不过是替罪羊。她们太天真，被这些人利用了。”
Ms. Siti, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, are accused of smearing VX nerve agent, a banned chemical weapon, on the face of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February.
25岁的西蒂和28岁的段氏香（Doan Thi Huong，音）被指2月在吉隆坡机场把违禁化学武器VX神经毒剂抹在金正恩(Kim Jong-un)同父异母的哥哥金正男(Kim Jong-un)的脸上。
The women thought they were participating in a prank and had been promised at least $100 for it, Mr. Gooi said. They never received the money and now face the death penalty on murder charges.
The police have identified at least seven North Koreans they believe were involved in organizing the assassination, including the three who were allowed to leave Malaysia last month. All seven, including four who left the country hours after the killing, are thought to be back in North Korea.
South Korean officials accuse North Korea of orchestrating the killing, which eliminated a potential rival to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Analysts say that North Korea got the better of Malaysia by barring nine Malaysian diplomats and their families from leaving the North until Malaysia agreed to release Mr. Kim’s body and the three suspects, who had been holed up in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
“Najib wanted all the Malaysians back for domestic political reasons so he was willing to let North Korea get away with murder,” said James Chin, the director of the Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania.
“因为国内政治原因，纳吉布想让所有马来西亚人回国，所以才愿意让朝鲜逃脱惩罚，”塔斯马尼亚大学塔斯马尼亚亚洲研究所(Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania)所长詹运豪(James Chin)说。
The nine Malaysians in Pyongyang were diplomats assigned to North Korea and their relatives, who never faced any threat to their safety and were free to go about their daily lives, call home and send photos.
But analysts said that Mr. Najib could ill afford a hostage crisis heading into national elections to be held within the next 16 months.
“North Koreans usually get the best of any country forced into negotiating with it, including the U.S.,” said Oh Ei Sun, a former political secretary to Mr. Najib and an adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“朝鲜通常会在与被迫进行谈判的国家的较量中占据上风，包括美国，”曾担任纳吉布的政治秘书，现在是新加坡拉惹勒南国际研究学院(S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies)兼职高级研究员的胡逸山(Oh Ei Sun)说。
The Malaysian authorities obtained one concession: They were allowed to interview the North Korean suspects in the embassy before they left the country.
“We have obtained whatever we want from them,” Khalid Abu Bakar, the national police chief, told reporters at the time. “They have assisted us, and they have been allowed to leave.”
“我们得到了想从他们那里得到的东西，”马来西亚警察总长卡立德·阿布·巴卡(Khalid Abu Bakar)当时对记者表示。“他们为我们提供了协助，他们已获准离开。”
But the content of those interviews has not been made public, and in court in Sepang, south of Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday, the lawyers representing the two women protested that they had not been provided with recordings or transcripts, either.
“Honestly, I feel we have been handicapped in so many ways in this case,” Mr. Gooi said.
The Malaysian government did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Gooi said that both women had been working as escorts when they were recruited by the North Koreans and that they did not meet each other until the day of the attack.
Ms. Siti, a part-time spa masseuse who also had a photo of herself posted on an outcall website, was recruited in January by a Malaysian scout working for the North Koreans, Mr. Gooi said. He found her at the Beach Club Cafe, a bar in Kuala Lumpur that is a well-known hangout for women from Asian countries seeking to make quick money.
兼职水疗按摩师西蒂还把自己的一张照片发在了一个应召网站上。魏顺成说，今年1月，一个为朝鲜人服务的马来西亚星探雇佣了西蒂。他是在吉隆坡一个名为海滩俱乐部咖啡店(Beach Club Cafe)的酒吧发现西蒂的。该酒吧很有名，常有来自亚洲各国希望挣快钱的女子出没。
Ms. Huong was recruited in December in Hanoi, he said.
The two women were handled by separate teams of North Korean men, who posed as being from Japan or China. Ms. Siti knew her handler as James, who she thought was Japanese.
After her arrest, the police retrieved a photo of James from her cellphone, Mr. Gooi said. James turned out to be Ri Ji U, one of the three North Korean suspects who had been allowed to leave Malaysia.
魏顺成说，逮捕西蒂后，警方从她的手机里获取了一张詹姆斯的照片。这个詹姆斯原来就是获准离开马来西亚的三名朝鲜嫌疑人中的李志右（Ri Ji U，音）。
“James is central to our defense,” Mr. Gooi said.
The other two suspects allowed to leave Malaysia were Kim Uk Il, an employee of North Korea’s state-run airline, and Hyon Kwang Song, who as the embassy’s second secretary has diplomatic immunity.
另外两名获准离开马来西亚的嫌疑人分别是朝鲜国有航空公司的员工金旭一（Kim Uk-il，音），和享有外交豁免权的朝鲜大使馆二等秘书玄光城（Hyon Kwang Song，音）。
Under the guidance of the North Korean handlers, Gooi said, the women practiced approaching strangers in public and smearing liquid on their faces. They believed their pranks would be shown in videos in Japan and China, perhaps kicking off their show business careers. They were paid $100 to $200 each time, he said.
Siti performed pranks on at least 10 occasions and Huong at least four, he said. Many of them took place in locations that Kim was known to frequent, including both terminals at the Kuala Lumpur airport and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
Siti was flown to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she performed three pranks, each earning her $200. A trip planned for Macau, where Kim lived, was canceled at the last minute.
The two women were unaware that Kim had died in the attack until they were arrested, Gooi said.