K UALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — The Indonesian girl charged with killing North Korea’s Kim Jong-nam had always dreamt of becoming a television star, according to her mother Benah.
In their last meeting in January last year, Benah said Siti Aisyah told her an opportunity had finally presented itself, when she was purportedly offered a role as an actress in a prank show.
“I asked her to make sure it was halal [permissible in Islam], and she said ‘Of course mum, it is halal’.
“Finally she was on TV. But not how I expected,” Benah said in an interview with British daily The Guardian.
Last year, Siti, 26, and a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, 30, were charged with murdering Kim by smearing a lethal VX nerve agent over his face at klia2 on 13 February.
Following her arrest, Siti quickly became the talk of the small village of Rancasumur in the Banten province, where she originally hails from.
Horrified by the “surreal” news, Benah admitted that she would pretend not to know her own daughter when the subject arises in a random conversation with the locals.
With the High Court here due to make a ruling to decide whether the duo should must enter their defence tomorrow, Benah still believes that her daughter is innocent.
She said Siti, through regular phone calls from prison, maintained that they were tricked into believing they were taking part in a prank show.
Benah said, “She told me: ‘Mum this whole thing is a set up, I was tricked’.”
She said that her daughter seemed to be coping with the stress but felt sorry for Doan, who rarely gets visitors in prison.
Benah added that Siti’s calls are capped at five minutes — barely enough time for her to hear the full story of how her daughter became embroiled in the Kim saga.
After Siti was arrested, the Foreign Ministry helped arrange a passport, but Benah says going to Kuala Lumpur is a daunting idea as neither her nor husband Asria has left the country before.
“I don’t think I could go there [to Kuala Lumpur] alone, I know nothing about the streets or where to go. Where would I sleep and eat?”
“I’m from the village so the city is a culture shock for me,” she reportedly said.
Benah said she can only pray for her daughter’s release from afar, adding that they would do all sorts of activities together, like cooking and reciting the al-Quran, when Siti comes home.
“I believe she will be freed because she is not guilty. She never intended to kill anyone. She is my daughter and I believe her,” she said.
The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.