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Without N Korean suspects, defending Jong-nam's accused murderers a tall order

SHAH ALAM: The police's decision to repatriate a North Korean man known as “James”, in exchange for nine Malaysians held hostage there, had compromised the defence's case in the Kim Jong-nam murder trial, a lawyer has claimed.
Defense lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, representing Indonesian murder suspect Siti Aisyah, said without James and three other North Korean prime suspects, the defence can only depend on independent evidence.
"Even if they were here, I am sure they would not admit to committing the crime.
"We pray to get independent evidence to show that what Siti Aisyah did was really on her belief that it was a prank, guided by James.
"James is a prime witness for the defence… he should not have been allowed to go back," Gooi told reporters at the Shah Alam High Court today.
He said CCTV footage of the incident showed Siti Aisyah merely walking away from the scene of the crime, and not committing the crime itself.
"Our focus is (to prove) that there was no (malicious) intention on Siti's part, that she did not know what she was applying.
"That will excuse her from the crime. If she did not have the intention of committing a particular crime, she cannot be guilty of it," Gooi said.
Today was the final day of case management before the trial begins on Oct 2.
The defence received 34 hard copy documents and 26 DVDs from prosecution lawyers.
"We will study the voluminous documents presented to us today, then verify them with our clients and experts.
"A (post-mortem) report that I read said that the cause of death was ‘degrading products of VX’ and not the VX agent itself. We need our own experts to study this," he added.
Representing Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are lawyers Datuk Naran Singh and Hisham Teh Poh Teik.
Hisham told reporters that the defence team has requested for the police statements given by the four North Koreans who were allowed to leave the country in exchange for the release of nine Malaysians held in the Hermit Kingdom.
"The statements (have still not been) given to us and we are interested to look at (them).
"We are entitled to know, because our client was charged together with the four of them," he said.
Hisham said he is confident of his client's innocence and that the rights of both of the accused women will be upheld.
As the prosecution will call on 10 witnesses consisting of experts, Naran said the defence would also like to have their statements before the trial begins.
"It will be better for us if they give their witness statements in advance (to allow) for a speedy trial," he said, adding that the defence is in the midst of collecting additional evidence.
Naran explained that during the trial, the prosecution will call on their witnesses, starting with the experts who will establish the cause of death.
Gooi said that if the court finds there is a prima facie case, it will call the defence sometime next year, "maybe in January."
Judge Datuk Azmi Ariffin fixed the trial dates for Oct 2 to 5; Oct 9 to 12; Oct 24 to 26, followed by Nov 6 to 9; Nov 13 to 16; and Nov 27 to 30. Siti and Doan can enter their pleas on the first day of trial on Oct 2.
They are accused of murdering Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korea's leader, on Feb 13 this year at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) using the internationally-banned VX nerve agent.

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