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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Malaysian court is scheduled Wednesday to set a new date for starting the defense phase of the trial for two Southeast Asian women charged with murdering the North Korean leader's half brother.
A High Court judge in August found there was enough evidence to infer that Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, along with four missing North Korean suspects, had engaged in a "well-planned conspiracy" to kill Kim Jong Nam.
Police escorted the women into the courthouse on Wednesday for the hearing to determine when the defense phase would begin. It had been due to resume Nov. 1 but was postponed after a defense lawyer fell ill.
The pair are accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim's face in an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. They have said they thought they were taking part in a prank for a TV show. They are the only suspects in custody. The four North Korean suspects fled the country the same morning Kim was killed.
Lawyers for Aisyah, 25, and Huong, 29, have told the judge they would testify under oath in their defense.
They have said their clients were pawns in a political assassination with clear links to the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and that the prosecution failed to show the women had any intention to kill. Their intent is key to concluding they are guilty of murder.
Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicized.
Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's ruling family. He had been living abroad for years but is thought he could have been seen as a threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rule.
Murder carries a mandatory sentence of hanging, but Malaysia's government plans to abolish the death penalty and put on hold all executions until the laws are changed.