Kim Jong-nam murder trial: Prosecution ordered to supply witness statements to defence

Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (centre) left Shah Alam court escorted by Malaysian police January 30, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong (centre) left Shah Alam court escorted by Malaysian police January 30, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 24 — The prosecution in the murder trial of Kim Chol or Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were today ordered to supply cautioned statements made by witnesses to the defence.

This followed a decision by a three-men bench Court of Appeal, chaired by Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, in allowing an appeal by lawyers representing Siti Aisyah, 26, to compel the prosecution to provide copies of the witness statements to them.

When asked by Justice Umi Kalthum when the prosecution could serve the statements to the defence, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Dusuki Ahmad replied that they would do so in two weeks, but applied for stay of the ruling pending the prosecution’s appeal against today’s order to the Federal Court.

“The application to stay the order is allowed pending leave and/or appeal to the Federal Court,” said Justice Umi Kalthum, who presided over the appeal with Justices Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang.

Dusuki also requested the proceedings at the High Court, which was scheduled this January 28 to be stayed until disposal of their appeal at the Federal Court, to which Justice Umi Kalthum ordered the prosecution to make the application before the High Court Judge.

Earlier, Justice Umi Kalthum allowed the defence appeal and set aside the order of the Shah Alam High Court on December 18, 2018 in rejecting the defence request to compel  the prosecution to produce them with copies of statements under Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), made by seven prosecution witnesses to the police.

The defence filed the application on November 7, 2018, seeking the witness statements by Ahmad Fuad Ramli, Lim Cheng Gam, Tomie Yoshio, Ng Wai Hoong, Dessy Meyrisinta, Raisa Rinda Salma and Kamaruddin Masiod.

Siti Aisyah’s counsel, Gooi Soon Seng, submitted that the witness statements should not be excluded to the defence as it was not qualified as privileged, but public documents.

“The prosecution has to provide the witness statement to the defence in order for our client to get a fair trial,” he said.

Dusuki countered that the statements were privileged documents and the prosecution also feared there would be tampering of witnesses and evidence if provided to the defence.

“For example, information which could create impact on national security and interests of justice. This information could be used by the defence to discredit the administration of justice and police,” he said, adding that it had always been the prosecution’s stand not to provide witness statements to the defence as it was a matter of public policy.

Justice Harmindar said that it was also a policy for the defence to get a fair trial and said that when he was a trial judge, he would direct the prosecution to supply witness statements to the defence after the prosecution’s case was concluded.

On August 16, 2018, the High Court ordered Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong to enter their defence on a charge of murdering Kim Chol.

However, their defence trial has yet to commence pending the defence application to obtain witness statements from the prosecution.

They were charged with four others still at large with the murder of Kim Chol, 45, at the KLIA2 departure hall at 9am on February 13, 2017, and if convicted they face the mandatory death sentence under Section 302 of the Penal Code. — Bernama

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