1. ITV Report

Women in court charged with murder of Kim Jong-nam

The two women are taken into court surround by high levels of security. Credit: APTN

The two women charged with murdering the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un have appeared in court in Malaysia.

Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were flanked by armed guards when they arrived at court early on Tuesday morning.

The women's case was formally transferred to the High Court as the lower court had no jurisdiction to hear a murder case.

Kim Jong-nam collapsed and died shortly after he was attacked with the deadly toxin VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13.

VX is so toxic that even one touch would be enough to kill, an expert told ITV News.

The women charged with the murder told police they thought they were taking part in a harmless prank for a hidden-camera television show, with Aisyah saying she was paid £73 to do it.

Malaysian prosecutors have said both women would face a mandatory death sentence if convicted.

Victim Kim Jong Nam and accused Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong. Credit: AP

Yusron Ambary, councillor at the Indonesian Embassy, said Siti wrote a letter to her parents recently, asking them not to worry about her.

"I am in good health," she wrote.

"Just pray. Don't think about me too much.

"Keep healthy and pray at night. I have a lot of people helping me.

"The embassy officials always come to see me, my lawyers also.

"Don't worry. Pray for me so that the case will be over soon and I can go back home. Send my love to my son Rio," he read from the letter to reporters gathered outside the courtroom.

Defence lawyers previously said they fear the two women will become scapegoats because other people who are believed to have knowledge of the case have fled Malaysia.

Police in the country said four North Korean suspects fled Malaysia on the day of the killing.

Although Malaysia has never directly accused North Korea of carrying out the attack, speculation is rampant that Pyongyang orchestrated the hit on a long-exiled member of its ruling family.

Although Mr Kim, who was estranged from his family, was not an obvious political threat, he may have been seen as a potential rival in the country's dynastic dictatorship.

North Korea has denounced the speculation.