Trial in Kim murder resuming with visit to Malaysian lab

Trial in Kim murder resuming with visit to Malaysian lab”

The murder trial of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, entered its second week on Monday (Oct 9), with the two accused taken to the Department of Chemistry to view evidence tainted with the deadly VX nerve agent.

The judge, prosecutors, defense lawyers and the Indonesian and Vietnamese suspects were to visit the chemistry laboratory to examine samples of the women's clothing before they are formally submitted as evidence.

Such a move is not unusual in criminal cases in Malaysia, where judges often visit crime scenes.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, in their 20s, are accused of smearing VX on Kim's face in February in a hit that stunned the world.

Aisyah and Huong have pleaded not guilty to the murder charge that could bring the death penalty if they are convicted.

The defendants say they were duped into believing they were taking part in a prank for a reality TV show, and their lawyers blame North Korean agents for the assassination.

VX is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea's dynastic rulers but was believed to have been cast out by his father and had lived overseas for years.

On Wednesday, the judge and court officials wore face masks and surgical gloves as VX-tainted evidence was presented in court.

During the week's four trial sessions, prosecutors sought to reconstruct Kim's final moments at the airport, establish that VX killed him and provide evidence linking VX to the two suspects.

He also said Mr Raja was inconsistent and should not be afraid to open the bag with Huong's shirt since he testified VX could be easily washed off and doesn't evaporate quickly.

The lawyer said Huong wanted to go into the room to have a closer look at the evidence, which included her fingernail clippings and white jumper emblazoned with the "LOL" acronym for "laughing out loud".

After the lab visit, defense lawyers are expected to cross-examine a government chemist who has testified VX was found on the women's clothing.

Raja said VX will degrade when it reacts with water, leaving the detectable byproducts, and a person can fully decontaminate their hands by washing and scrubbing within 15 minutes.

The trial, which was earlier scheduled to continue later Monday afternoon, has been postponed to Tuesday.

Pathologist Mohamad Shah Mahmood also testified there were no signs that a heart attack or other factors had contributed to Kim's death.

Aisyah's lawyer, Gooi Soon Seng, argued the autopsy reports indicate only that Kim was killed by chemical poisoning, not necessarily by VX nerve agent, and Mohd Shah admitted under cross-examination he does not have much experience with VX and other nerve agents. "The low cholinesterase level in Kim Chol could be caused by exposure to poisons such as insecticide or nerve agents", he said, and that Huong and Aisyah both had normal levels of cholinesterase. "We know their (prosecution) narration; we know the evidence that they have".

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