Kim Jong Nam
Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport, Feb. 11, 2007. Reuters/Kyodo

The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed early last year in Malaysia, met with an American four days before his death, according to police Monday.

Kim Jong Nam, 45, was killed when two women allegedly smeared VX, a deadly nerve agent, on his face at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb. 13 last year. The women, Siti Aisyah, 25, of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong, 29, of Vietnam, are currently on trial for the murder. Both pled not guilty, contending that they were tricked into killing him and believed they were on a game show. They said they thought rubbing Kim Jong Nam’s face was part of a prank for a television show. Authorities said they believed four North Koreans were involved in the killing, but they have fled — Malaysia has asked Interpol for help in arresting them.

Both women could face the death penalty if it is proven they intended to kill the victim.

Kim Jong Nam arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Macau Feb. 6 last year, according to Wan Azirul Nizam Che Wan Aziz, the police official investigating the murder. Kim Jong Nam then went to the Malaysian island of Langkawi and met with a Korean American man at a hotel on Feb. 9, police said. Authorities did not know the person’s identity. The investigator said he could not remember the hotel name or whose name the room was registered under, prompting a lashing from Aisyah’s lawyer, according to Reuters. The line of questioning about the American was prompted by a Japanese newspaper report that said that Kim Jong Nam met with a U.S. intelligence agent before his death and passed data to him via a laptop.

The investigator said he did not know if the meeting was linked to the death or if data was passed to the American, Reuters reported. Forensic evidence of Kim Jong Nam’s laptop showed that it was last used Feb. 9.

Kim Jong Nam also had $138,000 on him when he was killed, but police said that the cash was unrelated to the meeting with the American.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Nam was thought to be the heir apparent to be the leader of North Korea, but fell out of favor. Kim Jong Nam said it was because he was reform-minded. He was also caught trying to sneak into Japan to visit Disneyland Tokyo. The incident was seen as a major embarrassment for North Korea because Japan is considered an enemy. He was exiled from the country in the early 2000s.

The women’s lawyers have said that the killing was likely a political assassination perpetrated by the North Korean government — a police witness said that a North Korean embassy vehicle was used to bring the North Korean suspects to the airport. Malaysian officials appear to be treading lightly in the matter, never officially blaming the North Korea government for the killing and avoiding politicizing the trial, according to the Associated Press.

Nerve Agent Killings
Royal Malaysian Police escort Vietnamese defendant Doan Thi Huong (2nd L) after her trial at the Shah Alam High Court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur on October 2, 2017, for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Two women pleaded not guilty on October 2 to murdering the half-brother of North Korea's leader at the start of their trial in Malaysia, as prosecutors alleged they practiced for the Cold War-style assassination before carrying it out. Mohd Rasfan/AFP/GETTY