Kim Jong Nam had well over the lethal dosage of the VX nerve agent on his face, a government chemist told a Malaysian court today, in the sixth day of the trial of the two women accused of Kim’s murder.
0.2 milligrams of VX per kilogram of body weight on the skin on his face represented “about 1.4 times the lethal dosage,” Dr. Raja Subramanian said.
Doan Thi Huong and Siti Aisyah, of Vietnamese and Indonesian nationality respectively, went on trial last Monday, and are accused of plotting and carrying out, along with four other suspects, the murder of Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February earlier in the year.
Dr. Raja also told the court that several items worn by Kim Jong Nam at the time of his death had been returned to North Korea.
The items include various items of jewelry, a bag and a wallet, as well as a blazer said to have a “maximum concentration” of the VX nerve agent.
When asked by Gooi Soon Seng, a defense counsel representing Siti Aisyah, why the blazer had not been presented to the defense as evidence, Dr. Raja told the court it had been sealed and returned to an investigating officer.
“Do you know it was sent back to North Korea?” Gooi then asked, to which Raja responded: “Yes.”
“[I was] instructed by the investigating officer, he gave the reason that some sample belonging to the victim would be returned to North Korea,” Raja explained.
While the blazer had been tested prior to its being sent back, the defense protested that they had not been allowed to see key evidence in the case.
“The thing is the blazer now has gone back to Korea and the sample was destroyed,” Gooi told press on Tuesday. “So we have nothing now… why would all these given back?”
“We want to find out…why that particular item was returned back to Korea and under whose instructions.”
When asked by NK News why the blazer had not been presented as evidence, one prosecutor said it was not necessary.
“It’s simple, in a murder case, do we bring a body to court? No right? I answered your question already,” Wan Shaharruddin Wan Ladin said, later telling the press that the prosecution faces an “uphill battle” in proving the accused’s guilt.
The defense has argued throughout the case that they have not been given adequate access to the state’s evidence and suggested that it may have been tampered with by authorities.
Their outspokenness saw Gooi and Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who is representing Doan Thi Huong, warned by High Court judge Justice Azmi Ariffin on Tuesday not to “cross the line” in case their comments “influence the public.”
The defense argued that the trial was a “high profile case” and that it was fully within their rights to talk to the press.
Just over a week after Kim Jong Nam’s murder in Kuala Lumpur on February 13, Malaysian police announced that a preliminary investigation had identified VX as having been the cause of death.
VX, also known as N-2-Diisopropylamino Ethyl methylphosphonothioate, has not known use beyond as a chemical weapon and is banned under international law.
The defense has repeatedly tried to call into question the evidence that it was used to kill Kim Jong Nam.
But the trial on Thursday saw Dr. Raja tell the court that both Huong and Siti’s clothing had, at the time of the attack on Kim Jong Nam, exhibited parent components of VX.
Components of VX were also found in Huong’s fingernails, Raja said.
Huong and Siti’s defense have argued that they not been given enough access to the evidence against their clients.
Their complaint saw Huong and her lawyer visit the government chemistry department on Monday to see the clothing fingernails, and a blood sample that chemists say was found to contain a byproduct of VX.
Sunday saw Japan’s Fuji TV broadcast an extensive investigation into the crime, claiming that the two young women charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam had used so-called binary chemicals which had resulted in VX gas when combined.
The network reported that Siti had been the first to place the chemical liquid on Kim’s face, followed swiftly by Huong wiping another.
This was why, unlike Kim, the women didn’t die from their hands coming in contact with chemical components.
Huong’s hands may have been contaminated, the report said, but she was safe because she washed her hands in the toilet of the airport immediately.
The network broadcast a security video showing Doan Thi Huong coming out of a toilet four minutes after the assault on Kim.
Further proof of the VX having been of the binary type comes in testimony from a Malaysian policeman approached by Kim after his death.
“I stepped away from him as there was a strong smell coming from him,” one says in the program. VX gas is usually odorless, but if used as binary chemical, it gives out a strong odor.
Wednesday will see the CCTV tapes of the incident – and the alleged “practice” runs carried out by the accused – played in court.
Tuesday saw the defense argue that Huong had “no knowledge at all what had been applied to her hands,” according to Hisyam Teh, another member of her defense team.
“[She] knew was that there were appointment substances on her hand. That’s all,” he said.
“That is the core of our case, that [she] has no knowledge or whatsoever that the liquid applied on her palm was a dangerous weapon, it’s a chemical weapon. She never knew that.”
The prosecution has the burden to prove that she had known that she was involved in a “killing,” he added.
The defense has also drawn attention to the case of Ri Jong Chol, a North Korean who was arrested in connection with the case in February, only to be later sent home by the Malaysian government due to lack of evidence.
Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un, died after his face was smeared with a liquid in an ambush at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on February 13.
The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) arrested Huong on February 15 and Siti on February 16 after the two were identified through CCTV footage of the attack.
Four male North Korean suspects have also been linked to the murder of Kim – all are believed to have left Malaysia after the attack was carried out and have been named as Ri Jae Nam, O Jong Gil, Hong Song Hak and Ri Ji Hyon.
Gooi said in April that the case had been “compromised” after the departure of the men, and that Siti and Duon were “scapegoats and pawns to be used while the real culprits were (allowed) to go back.”
Additional reporting by Earn Yee and Kosuke Takahashi