Masks worn in Malay court as VX-tainted evidence shown
(4 Oct 2017) A Malaysian judge and court officials wore face masks and surgical gloves in court on Wednesday as samples were admitted as evidence of where VX nerve agent was found on the body and clothing of the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader.
On the third day of the murder trial of the two women accused of poisoning Kim Jong Nam, government pathologist Mohamad Shah Mahmood said chemist tests detected VX, as well as VX precursors and VX byproducts, in Kim’s eye mucus, on his face, in his blood and urine, and on his clothing.
Prosecutors and defence lawyers then took a 20-minute break to examine those samples, which were sealed in transparent plastic bags.
Most of them wore gloves and masks as a safety precaution after prosecutors warned the VX-tainted items may still be dangerous.
After the break, Judge Azmi Ariffin also covered himself as the samples were officially admitted as evidence.
The two suspects, Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, have pleaded not guilty to murder charges that could bring the death penalty if they are convicted.
They have not testified but their defence has said the women believed they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera TV show and were tricked by men suspected of being North Korean agents.
Prosecutors also Wednesday sought to show VX was the sole cause of death.
Mohamad Shah said toxicology tests found six types of drugs in Kim’s blood that are used to treat diabetes, hypertension and gout.
But he said those drugs and those conditions would not have caused Kim’s swift death.
He also said the autopsy found no sign Kim had a heart attack.
Mohamad Shah said his conclusion that Kim died of “acute VX poisoning” was based on a chemist report of the presence of VX and the swiftness of death.
Earlier testimony showed Kim died within two hours of being attacked in a crowded Kuala Lumpur airport terminal, not within 20 minutes as earlier stated by Malaysia’s health ministry.
The trial is being closely watched by the Indonesian and Vietnamese governments, which hired the defence lawyers for both women.
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