Kim Jong-Nam fell out of favour with the North Korean hierarchy following a botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport © AFP/File

Two women accused of the Cold War-style assassination of the half-brother of North Korea’s leader in Malaysia will go on trial in October, a judge said Friday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are accused of rubbing highly toxic VX nerve agent in the face of Kim Jong-Nam as he waited to board a plane at Kuala Lumpur’s main airport in February.

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The women, who may face the death penalty if convicted, deny carrying out the killing and say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a reality TV show.

Seoul accuses North Korea of being behind the murder of Kim Jong-Un’s estranged relative, which sparked a serious diplomatic row between Malaysia and the North. Pyongyang denies the allegation.

At a heavily guarded court outside Kuala Lumpur, the women arrived wearing bullet-proof vests and handcuffs, and were taken past a waiting pack of journalists.

Judge Azmi Ariffin told the 30-minute hearing at the High Court in Shah Alam that the trial would begin on October 2 and would be completed within about two months.

“I am making a ruling that both the cases will be tried jointly,” he told the packed courtroom.

The two accused were brought into the courtroom in handcuffs wearing traditional Malaysian dresses. They looked nervous but occasionally smiled to their lawyers and embassy officials.

After the hearing, Aisyah, 25, started sobbing, and one of her lawyers patted her back to calm her down.

Prosecutor Muhammad Iskandar Ahmad said 30 to 40 witnesses would be called. The women’s lawyers said they would enter pleas at the start of the trial in October.

AFP