Two women accused of Kim Jong Nam airport assassination plead not guilty

Two women accused of killing the half-brother of North Korea's leader have pleaded not guilty as their trial started in Malaysia.

Siti Aisyah, from Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong, from Vietnam, entered their pleas at Malaysia's High Court on Monday, nearly eight months after the airport assassination.

The pair could face the death penalty if convicted.

They are suspected of smearing Kim Jong Nam's face with the banned VX nerve agent on February 13 at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur, killing him within about 20 minutes.

The women say they thought they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera show.

They are the only suspects in custody in a killing that South Korea's spy agency said was part of a five-year plot by Kim Jong Un to kill a brother he reportedly never met.

Malaysian police have said four North Korean suspects fled the country on the same day Kim Jong Nam was killed.

North Korea has a history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime.

While Kim Jong Nam was not thought to be seeking influence, his status as eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's founding family could have made him appear to be a danger to his half brother's rule.

Pyongyang has denied any role in the killing and has not even acknowledged that the dead man was Kim Jong Nam.

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