KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Appearing calm and solemn, two young women accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader, were charged with murder Wednesday. The women, who arrived in court under the protection of masked special forces carrying machine guns, are at the center of a bizarre killing at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal. Many speculate the attack was orchestrated by North Korea, but Pyongyang denies any role. "I understand but I am not guilty," Vietnamese suspect Doan Thi Huong told the court in English after the murder charge was read.
Two women accused of smearing VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader, were charged with murder Wednesday after arriving in court under heavy protection. Kim Jong Nam was attacked at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal on Feb. 13 and died shortly after two women went up behind him and wiped something onto his face. Both women have reportedly said they thought they were part of a prank TV show playing harmless tricks on unsuspecting passengers. One of the suspects, an Indonesian woman, told authorities that she was paid the equivalent of $90.
MACAU (AP) — The heavy-set man got out of a taxi one night last September and headed for the lobby bar of the swank Wynn Macau — a quiet place, where women are often in evening dresses and gamblers can relax with $300 Cuban cigars. He was dressed casually. There were no bodyguards, no flashy women. It wasn't what you'd expect of a man once tipped to be the next dictator of North Korea. Kim Jong Nam had spent years in exile, gambling and drinking and arranging the occasional business deal as he traveled across Asia and Europe. In recent years, his fortunes had apparently declined, and he'd moved his family from a luxurious seafront condominium complex in Macau to a more affordable apartment building.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea is flouting United Nations sanctions by trading in prohibited weapons and other goods and using evasion techniques "that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication," U.N. experts say in a new report. The panel of experts monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang said that despite strengthened financial sanctions adopted in 2016 the country is still accessing formal banking channels "by using greater ingenuity." "Their ability to conceal financial activity by using foreign nationals and entities allows them to continue to transact through top global financial centers," the experts said in the report to the Security Council obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press.
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A retired journalist who joined the criminal underworld while researching a book on South America's drug cartels became the first Colombian, and possibly the first Latin American, to be executed in China for drug offenses. The execution Monday night of Ismael Arciniegas occurred amid a last-ditch diplomatic effort by Colombia's government to save the 72-year-old's life. Arciniegas was arrested in 2010 arriving by plane to the southern port city of Guangzhou trying to smuggle almost 4 kilograms of cocaine in exchange for $5,000. But his downfall came decades earlier, in the 1980s, when he began researching a book on drug cartels in his native Cali, according to his son, Juan Jose Herrera, who described to local media the heart-breaking, 20-minute phone conversation he and family members had with his father shortly before he was taken to a room to be killed by lethal injection.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean special prosecutors indicted Samsung's de facto chief Tuesday on bribery, embezzlement and other charges linked to a political scandal that has toppled President Park Geun-hye. The indictment of Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong is a huge hit for the largest and most successful of the big businesses that dominate the South Korean economy. It also signals the still roiling state of South Korea's political and economic circles after weeks of massive demonstrations that led to Park's impeachment. The announcement of the indictment came after a three-month investigation by a special prosecution team that ended Tuesday after the country's acting leader refused a request for an extension.
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has slammed a fishing ban China has imposed in parts of the disputed South China Sea, saying it violates Vietnamese sovereignty and further complicates the tense situation in the troubled waters. China's Ministry of Agriculture on Monday issued a seasonal fishing ban in parts of the South China Sea, including waters near the Paracel islands claimed by Vietnam but occupied by China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said in a statement Tuesday that Vietnam opposes and rejects the ban, adding Vietnam has the legal grounds and historical evidence to back up its sovereignty claims. He said China's unilateral action seriously violates Vietnam's sovereignty and goes against international law.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has opened a key economic summit aimed at improving trade ties amid unprecedented security. Islamabad is hosting the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization summit Wednesday to finalize a plan for expanding trade and prosperity among member nations. Turkey, Iran and Pakistan founded the organization in 1985. Pakistani state TV is providing a live telecast of the one-day conference, which elected Sharif its chairman. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among heads state in attendance. Pakistan has deployed a heavy security contingent to guard Islamabad, where all offices, schools and businesses are closed for the day.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Five Samsung executives, including the company's 48-year-old billionaire heir, will stand trial in the coming months on bribery, embezzlement and other charges linked to a massive scandal that toppled South Korea's president. Before being arrested earlier this month, Lee Jae-yong, the third generation of the Samsung founding family, was seen as bringing a string of changes to South Korea's largest business group, such as increasing shareholder returns. The criminal charges can put the Samsung scion, his former mentor and three other Samsung executives behind bars for several years if they are found guilty. What you need to know and what we can expect next: WHY SAMSUNG?
BEIJING (AP) — A senior North Korean diplomat arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks following China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the killing of the exiled half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song will hold talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on "issues of common concern," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing. Last week, China suspended all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year as it steps up pressure on its once-close Communist ally to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.