Kim Jong Un’s estranged brother Kim Jong Nam told a friend he feared his “life is in danger” six months before being poisoned at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport in a daring assassination carried out by two women, a police investigator testified Tuesday.
Chief police investigator Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz told the court in Malaysia that Kim Jong Nam had told his friend, “My life is in danger,” and “I am scared for my life” about six months before he was killed.
The friend didn’t specify why Kim believed his life was in danger at the time.
Kim died on Feb. 13, 2017 after two women allegedly smeared the banned VX nerve agent on the despot brother’s face before fleeing the airport. Kim stumbled around before falling down. CCTV footage also showed the two woman accused of being part of the brazen assassination walking in the airport and going into the restroom before the alleged attack.
The two women, Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, were charged with murder. Four other North Korean men who fled Malaysia on the same day were believed to be involved in the plot to kill Kim.
Aisyah’s lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, also asked the policeman if Hong Song Hac, one of four suspects believed to have fled back to North Korea, was an official with the North Korean Embassy in Indonesia at the time. Wan Azirul initially said he didn’t know but then agreed when shown a document provided by the Indonesian foreign ministry.
Gooi told reporters later that police had failed to investigate the background of the four other suspects. He said the involvement of another North Korean Embassy official reinforced the belief that the embassy and its government were involved in the plot.
The involvement of the missing North Korean agents has fueled South Korea’s spy agency’s claim that the attack was part of a careful plot set up by the North Korean despot to kill a brother he reportedly never met. Kim Jong Nam was not known to be actively seeking influence over his younger brother but had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic rule. Since he was also the eldest son of the late leader Kim Jong Il, he could have been seen as a potential rival to Kim Jong Un.
A report by Japanese magazine Nikkei Asian Review in August also claimed Kim Jong Un “flew into a rage” when he discovered his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was planning a coup with Chinese officials to overthrow him.
However, Malaysian officials never formally accused North Korea of any involvement in Kim Jon Nam’s death. The trial is expected to resume March 14.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.