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Kim Jong Nam ‘met US agent’ before his death in Malaysia

Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader, met a Korean-American man on a tourist island before he was assassinated, a court has been told.

Mr Kim met the man at a hotel in Langkawi on 9 February last year, according to a witness.

Four days later, Mr Kim was dead.

Two women – Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong – are on trial accused of rubbing VX nerve agent on Mr Kim’s face at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.

During Monday’s hearing, senior investigating police officer Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz said that Mr Kim flew from Macau to Kuala Lumpur on 6 February and travelled to the northern island of Langkawi two days later.

Mr Kim then met with a Korean American, he said.

The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, reporting on the meeting between Mr Kim and the American, said that Mr Kim had met a US intelligence agent in Langkawi.

Siti Aisyah is escorted by police after her appearance at the chemistry lab
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Siti Aisyah is escorted by police after an earlier court appearance

Mr Kim had also used his laptop and USB drive for the last time that day, according to a police computer forensics report.

Mr Wan Azirul was unable to share the identity of the American, whether he was a spy or the name of the hotel, replying that he was unsure or did not remember.

He also said the event was not related to the $138,000 in cash found in Mr Kim’s backpack after his death.

The court heard that Mr Kim had left Langkawi for Kuala Lumpur on 12 February and was killed in the airport the following day.

A post-mortem found the banned nerve agent in Mr Kim’s eyes, blood and urine; his brain, lungs, liver and spleen were also damaged.

There were also traces of it on the women’s clothes and on Huong’s fingernails, with a chemist previously telling the court that rubbing VX in the eyes would be the fastest way to kill, as the eyes have no protection.

The palm of the hand is the least sensitive area, he had added, saying VX could be safely washed off the hand within 15 minutes of exposure, explaining why the women were not affected.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, is escorted as she arrives at the Department of Chemistry in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 9, 2017
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Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong who is on trial for the killing of Kim Jong Nam

Aisyah and Huong have said they thought they were part of a TV prank show, while their lawyers blame North Korean agents.

The women face death by hanging if they are convicted and are found to have intended to kill Mr Kim.

The trial resumed last week following a seven-week recess.

Last week, the court heard that Mr Kim’s phone and most of his belongings had already been handed back to North Korea, along with his body.

Lawyer Gooi Soon Seng, who is defending Aisyah, said this prevented the identification of the person who had revealed Mr Kim’s movements to the North Koreans.

The decision by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, to launch a missile over Japan on Friday, caused the temporary suspension of a golf tournament in Sapporo
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It is thought Mr Kim could have threatened the rule of his half brother Kim Jong Un

Mr Kim, who was the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, lived in Macau. Some analysts have said the North Korean leader believed his brother could be used in any overthrow of his regime.

North Korea has denied having Mr Kim murdered, but police have told the court that several North Korean men helped plan the attack, including a man identified by one of the women as the one who hired her to perform pranks.

The prosecution is expected to rest their case in March.

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