Alleged Kim Jong Nam killer was hired for ‘Japanese prank show’

(CNN) — One of the two women accused of murdering Kim Jong Nam, the exiled brother of North Korea’s leader, was hired to take part in what she believed to be a Japanese prank show in the weeks prior to his death, a Malaysian court heard Tuesday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah was paid $102 (RM400) in January 2017 to perform a series of pranks outside a Malaysian mall for what she was told was a Japanese YouTube show, investigating officer Asst Supt Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz revealed under cross examination.

The testimony appears to give credence to claims that the Indonesian woman was duped into thinking that she were participating in TV show when she helped wipe a substance on Kim at Kuala Lumpur International airport on February 13, 2017.

Malaysian authorities allege that Siti Aisyah, along with 29-year-old Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong, were trained by North Korean agents to surreptitiously swab Kim’s face with VX nerve agent, a powerful chemical weapon that kills by sending the nervous system into overdrive. North Korea vehemently denies this.

Both women have always maintained through lawyers and relatives they thought they were smearing baby oil on the face of the older man.

Siti Aisyah’s involvement in the “prank show” began when she was picked up by a taxi driver named Kamaruddin Masiod early one January morning outside a bar, Wan Azirul Nizam said.

Kamaruddin told the Indonesian woman about a YouTube prank show to be aired in Japan and offered to introduce her to the organizer.

In his testimony, the police investigator said Siti Aisyah is believed to have met with Kamaruddin and a man named James, or “the Japanese,” later the same morning at the Pavilion shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur.

“(At the meeting) Siti Aisyah was shown a video of the prank, and she performed it three times,” Aisyah’s defense lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said in his statement to the press.

But the man she knew as “James” is believed to be a North Korean, Ri Ju U, according to details provided to the court and by the lawyer for the defense.

Ri Ju U was one of three men would later be deported to Pyongyang in March 2017.

Investigator Wan Azirul Nizam said the taxi driver had testified to police he’d seen Siti Aisyah performing the pranks outside the mall. The investigator was pressed as to how long before the murder the first pranks took place, but he said he couldn’t remember.

The older Kim was at Malaysia’s international airport in Kuala Lumpur to board a flight to the Chinese administrative region of Macau when the women are alleged to have killed him.

If found guilty, the two young women face a likely death sentence. The trial is due to resume in just under two weeks, on February 8.