We talked to the family of Kim Jong Nam's accused assassin

May 31, 2017, 4:33am

The two women accused of assassinating the estranged half brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un appeared in court in Malaysia Tuesday wearing bulletproof vests.

In February, the two were captured on security cameras at the Kuala Lumpur airport attacking Kim Jong Nam, authorities say, with their hands doused in VX nerve agent — a deadly and prohibited compound that the U.N. considers a weapon of mass destruction.

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The two women maintain they thought the attack was a prank. But on Tuesday their case was transferred to Malaysia’s high court — and if convicted of the murder, they could face the death penalty. Their first high court hearing has yet to receive a firm date, but prosecutors hope to hear from the court “within a month,” Al Jazeera reported.

Details surrounding the assassination and the events leading up to it make for a perplexing story. North Korea has denied any connection to the assassination, and Malaysian investigators have stopped short of blaming Pyongyang. Nevertheless, it is widely believed Kim Jong Un’s government was behind the attack. The back-and-forth between North Korea and Malaysia set off a “diplomatic meltdown” in March.

In rural Indonesia, the family of one of the two accused attackers is still struggling to come to grips with their daughter’s plight. VICE News visited with Siti Aisyah’s family in rural Indonesia ahead of the trial.

“I think it’s impossible that my daughter is guilty,” Aisyah’s father said. “She is an innocent girl. She’s like a blank canvas. The canvas was blank, and then filled with dark things.”

This segment originally aired May 30, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.