KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The trial of two girls accused of murdering the estranged half brother of North Korea’s chief enters its second week with the court proceeding briefly Monday into some high-security lab to view signs tainted with the toxic VX nerve agent.
High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin declared that prosecutors and defense attorneyswill hold court to analyze samples of their women’s clothes before they are formally submitted as proof.
The conclusion came after authorities chemist Raja Subramaniam told the court that VX discovered on the clothes might be active.
This type of move is not unusual in cases in Malaysia, in which judges visit with crime scenes.
Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, lawyer for defendant Doan Thi Huong, told The Associated Press that the visit to Raja’s laboratory is purely for security reasons. He said the concept of holding a formal court session would be to legalize the visit, which will be anticipated to have an hour, after.
Huong and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia pleaded not guilty at the start of their trial last week to charges of murdering Kim Jong Nam by smearing VX on his face at a busy airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13. If convicted, they face a mandatory death sentence. Defense attorneys have said the women were fooled by North Korean agents into thinking they played with a prank to get a concealed TV-camera show.
VX is banned by an international treaty for a weapon of mass destruction but is believed to be a part of North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Kim had lived abroad for years but was believed to have been cast out by his father and was the eldest son in the generation of the dynastic rulers of North Korea. He never fulfilled present leader Kim Jong Un, who is widely believed to have perceived his sibling for a hazard and targeted him.
Last week, VX-tainted signs from Kim Jong Nam’s body and clothes was presented in court in transparent bags that were sealed. It wasn’t eliminated from the luggage, but the judge and court officials wore gloves and surgical masks as a security precaution.
During the four trial periods of the week, establish that he was murdered by VX prosecutors sought to rebuild the final minutes of Kim at the airport and supply proof linking VX.
Raja, who is the sole Malaysian with a doctorate in chemical weapons investigation, testified that he discovered traces of VX on Huong sweater and fingernail clippings, and on the sleeveless T-shirt of Aisyah. Huong was seen on airport surveillance movies wearing a scarf emblazoned with large black letters reading “LOL,” the acronym for “laughing out loud.”
Raja also verified that he discovered VX on Kim’s face, eyes, clothes, and in his blood and urine samples.
Raja testified that VX can be safely taken out of the hands of a hand by scrubbing it with water within 15 minutes of exposure, in a potential explanation of why the two girls did not show any signs of poisoning.
Raja, the opinion to take the stand, would be to be cross-examined by defense attorneys on Monday following the laboratory visit.
Pathologist Mohamad Shah Mahmood also testified that there were no indications that other factors or a heart attack had contributed to the departure of Kim. He concluded in his autopsy report that Kim died of “severe VX poisoning.”
“It is no surprise,” said Hisyam, Huong’s lawyer. “We all know their (prosecution) narration; we know the signs which they have. We have a response; we’ve got a response to every proof they’ve adduced so far.”
The lawyer for Aisyah, Gooi Soon Seong, has said the detection of VX on the girls is not enough to convict them.
“If I’ve got the knife, this does not mean that I killed the person. They must have other more powerful proof,” he said.
Prosecutors say they’ll present and indicate they knew they were handling toxin.
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