Indonesian woman 'tricked into attack on Kim Jong Nam; thought she was doing TV prank'

Kim Jong Nam.

The Indonesian woman arrested over the killing of the North Korean leader's half brother in Malaysia was duped into thinking she was part of a prank on a TV comedy show, according to Indonesia's national police chief.

Tito Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia's Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in Just For Laughs- style pranks, a reference to a popular hidden camera show.

He said she and another woman performed stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.

"Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong Nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer," Mr Karnavian said.

"She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents," he said.

A male relative of Aisyah has said she had been hired to perform in a short comedy movie and travelled to China for the work.

South Korea has been quick to accuse North Korea of dispatching a hit squad to kill Kim Jong Nam at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, saying two female assassins poisoned him and then fled in a taxi.

Although Kim Jong Nam is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau, police in Malaysia say no-one has come forward to claim the body or provide DNA samples.

North Korean diplomats in Malaysia have requested custody of Kim Jong Nam's body, arguing that he had a North Korean passport. The officials objected to a post-mortem, but Malaysian authorities went ahead because they did not receive a formal complaint.

Investigators are still trying to piece together details of the case, and South Korea has not said how it concluded that North Korea was behind the killing.

Malaysian police are questioning three suspects - Aisyah, another women who carried a Vietnamese passport, and a man they said is Aisyah's boyfriend - and waiting for test results that could shed light on why Kim Jong Nam suddenly fell ill at the airport on Monday as he waited for a flight home to Macau.

Dizzy and in pain, he told medical workers at the airport he had been sprayed with a chemical. Within two hours he was dead.

Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46, had lived in exile for years and was estranged from his younger half brother, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He reportedly fell out of favour in 2001 when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist who wrote a book about Kim Jong Nam, said he criticised the family regime and believed a leader should be chosen "through a democratic process".

In Indonesia, Aisyah's family and former neighbours in western Jakarta said they were stunned by her arrest, describing her as a polite and quiet young mother.

Her mother Benah said the family comes from a humble village background and has no ability to help her.

"Since we heard that from the television, I could not sleep and eat. Same as her father, he just prays and reads the holy Quran. He even does not want to speak. As villagers, we could only pray."

Malaysia said on Friday it wants DNA samples from Kim Jong Nam's family as part of the post-mortem procedure and that officials are not yet willing to hand the body over to the North Koreans.

- AP

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