Friday, 3 March 2017
25-year-old Siti Aisyah, one of 2 women suspected of killing North Korean maverick Kim Jong-nam, was charged with murder on Wednesday by a Malaysian court, but the Indonesian government has reiterated its commitment to continue providing legal assistance and protection until she is proven guilty of the crime, raising questions about Siti’s possible involvement in a clandestine assassination plot.
Appearing in court in Sepang on Wednesday morning, Siti was accompanied by lawyers from Gooi & Azzura and a team from the Indonesian Embassy to Malaysia (KBRI), as the presiding judge read out the charges against her.
She and another suspect from Vietnam, Doan Thi Huong, were charged with conspiracy and murder under sections 34 and 302 of the Malaysian penal code, with the latter carrying the death sentence upon conviction.
No plea was recorded during the hearing.
The Foreign Ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesian nationals and entities abroad, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, urged all parties involved in the case to uphold the principle of presumption of innocence.
“In accordance with this, both the KBRI’s protection team and (Siti’s) legal team will continue providing legal assistance,” Iqbal said in a statement on Wednesday.
He also noted that Siti’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, was granted a gag order to restrain police and potential witnesses from making public statements that may incriminate his client.
Prosecutors will apply for the 2 accused to be tried jointly on the next court date of 13 April.
For the duration of her trial, Siti is to be moved from the Cyberjaya detention facility to a women’s prison in Kajang, Iqbal said.
The women could be hanged if they are convicted of assassinating the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 13 February, an incident that has sparked theories about North Korean espionage activities in the region.
Both have told diplomats who visited them in custody that they were unwitting pawns in an assassination that United States officials and South Korean intelligence said was organized by North Korean agents.
Pyongyang maintains the victim is a North Korean citizen, but denies he is the half brother of its leader Kim Jong-un.
Malaysian police have said that the women knew what they were doing when they attacked and were instructed to wash their hands afterwards.
Authorities also said Siti fell sick, vomiting repeatedly while in custody, possibly as a side effect of VX, though embassy officials have subsequently said she was in good health.
“It is possible that Siti may have been used by certain parties, who remain unknown,” intelligence observer Andrea Abdul Rahman told.
“The North Koreans might not necessarily be behind this plot. It could also be agents from other countries looking to discredit Kim Jong-un.”
Andrea said it was up to the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and its counterparts in Malaysia and Vietnam to decide whether Siti and Huong were indeed part of a clandestine operation to assassinate Kim Jong-nam.
If she was exposed as an agent or a recruit, Siti might face treason charges in accordance with Article 1 clauses (4), (8) and (9) of the 2011 Intelligence Law, he added.
While the government had not officially recognized that intelligence officers were screening Siti for any possible espionage connections, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian recently said that police forces of both countries were cooperating in the case.
Meanwhile, international law expert Jaka Triyana from Gajah Mada University (UGM) said the government would be able to unilaterally revoke Siti’s rights to protection and legal assistance if any evidence linking her to foreign spies surfaced.
Source by: Internet